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China's Xi Jinping to meet President Obama next month

24 January 12 03:31
Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will meet US President Barack Obama in Washington DC on 14 February, the White House has announced.

The two leaders will discuss "a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues" at the Valentine's Day meeting, the statement said.

Mr Xi, in line to become China's next ruler, said last week that he hoped his visit would help to ease tensions.

He will also meet Vice-President Joe Biden, and visit California and Iowa.

Mr Xi hosted Mr Biden on his five-day visit to China last August, which was designed in part to establish links with China's leader-in-waiting, whom Washington has admitted to knowing little of.

The 58-year-old is expected to take over the Communist Party leadership role from President Hu Jintao at the end of this year, and become president when Mr Hu retires next year.

The US-China relationship has become an increasingly delicate one over a series of security and economic issues.

Washington has been putting pressure on China over the value of its currency and observers expect Mr Obama to reiterate the call for Beijing to allow the yuan to appreciate.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with resistance during his visit to China earlier this month to seek co-operation on Iran sanctions. China says its oil trade with Iran should not be linked to the nuclear issue.

China, on the other hand, has voiced concern over the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and displeasure over arms sales to Taiwan, which it still claims as a province.

On a return trip to Washington last week to arrange for Mr Xi's upcoming visit, US Ambassador to China Gary Locke said in a television interview that Mr Xi was "very personable" but US officials ''really don't know that much about him''.

Mr Xi first visited the US in 1985 on an exchange trip to Iowa when he was an official in Hebei province.

"He has fond memories of the Midwest and is very familiar with our agricultural sector," Mr Locke said.

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