Bush, China's Hu tackle thorny issues


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updated 7:23 a.m. EDT,September 6, 2007

Presidents Hu Jintao and Bush shake hands after their meeting at the APEC summit in Sydney.SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday told reporters that talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao were "constructive" and centered on Iran, China-made product recalls, global climate change and civilian religious freedoms.

"He's an easy man to talk to. I'm very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu," Bush said.

He was in the Australian city of Sydney ahead of an annual Asia-Pacific economic summit where Iraq, climate change and trade are expected to dominate the agenda.

The Chinese leader said "all along our talks have been sincere and cordial and I am committed to working together with President Bush to further advance our constructive and cooperative relations."

Regarding climate change, Bush said both leaders want to work together.

"We believe that the issue of climate change bears on the welfare of the whole of humanity and sustainability of the whole world," Hu said. "This should be tackled through a stronger international cooperation."

In addition to discussing the delicate North Korean nuclear issue and the violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur, Bush said Hu was "quite articulate" about the contentious issue of product safety, given the string of recalls on defective Chinese-made products -- which have spanned from tainted food to hazardous toys.

Hu said he has a desire "to work for further development and the growth and business ties of our countries through dialogue and consultations."

On Wednesday the U.S.-based Consumer Product Safety Commission said Americans should expect more Chinese-made toys to be recalled in coming months -- a forecast that came on the heels of a massive Mattel toy recall blamed on an excessive presence of lead paint. It was the third such recall of Chinese-manufactured toys by Mattel this summer.

Touching upon deep U.S.-Sino differences, Bush said he "once again" had a chance "to share...my belief in religious freedom and religious liberty" in China.

Although Bush hinted to reporters on Wednesday that he might bring it up, neither Hu nor the president said the recent cyber attack on the Pentagon was discussed Thursday.

The United States has not officially accused Beijing of hacking into the military e-mail system that serves Defense Secretary Robert Gates and hundreds of other department employees, but behind the scenes a senior Bush administration official told CNN that China is the No. 1 suspect in the June hacking incident.

On Monday, the Financial Times of London also reported that Washington believed China was responsible. Meanwhile the Chinese government dismisses such allegations as "groundless."

In closing, Bush told reporters he and his family anxiously accepted an invitation to attend the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Beijing.

Outside the summit venue, where security is extremely tight, several Australian comedians, one dressed as Osama bin Laden, drove through two security checkpoints in a fake motorcade before being stopped and arrested near the hotel where Bush is staying.

Copyright 2007 CNN.

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