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International Relations

US, Chinese presidents meet in California

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have begun two days of informal talks in California. The leaders are pushing for more cooperative ties between the world's two largest economies.

President Barack Obama gestures with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands as they meet for talks Friday, June 7, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Seeking a fresh start to a complex relationship, the two leaders are retreating to the sprawling desert estate for two days of talks on high-stakes issues, including cybersecurity and North Korea's nuclear threats. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Obama / Xi Jinping Treffen in Rancho Mirage 07.06.2013

US President Barack Obama said on Friday that he hopes to achieve a "new model of cooperation" with China, despite persistent accusations of Chinese cyber attacks against US corporate and government computer networks. 

Obama received the Chinese president at the Sunnylands resort in southeastern California. It is the first meeting between the two leaders since Xi took office in March.

Obama and Xi were originally scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia this September. The US president said the "decision to meet so early signifies the importance of the US-China relationship."

Xi said he hoped the meetings would "shape the future" of US-Chinese relations. Before arriving in California, the Chinese president visited Latin America, where Beijing has been expanding investment.

'Areas of tension'

Obama said that although "there are areas of tension between our two nations," it is in both countries' interests to work together.

In recent months, Washington directly accused the Chinese government and military of hacking US corporations and the Pentagon. China denies the charges, saying it too is a victim of cyber attacks.

Britain's Guardian newspaper published details Thursday on an Obama administration policy directive on cyber warfare. In the document, the president calls for intelligence and defense establishments to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for cyber attack.

Obama and Xi are expected to discuss cyber security. The two countries are already set to hold working group level talks on the issue in July.

The two leaders are expected to discuss North Korea as well. Tensions have risen precipitously on the Korean Peninsula, since Pyongyang detonated a nuclear device last February. China is North Korea's only ally.

slk/lw (AP, AFP, dpa)