China's expected new leader calls for cooperation with US

The man expected to become China's next leader has met George Bush and, in a rare public appearance, said their countries share important responsibilities.

The man expected to become China's next leader has met George Bush and, in a rare public appearance, said their countries share important responsibilities.

Vice President Hu Jintao says both countries must safeguard Asia-Pacific stability, fight terrorism and protect the environment.

Hu Jintao, in line to succeed Jiang Zemin as president and leader of China's Communist Party, said better relations are "the will of our two peoples."

Hu made the remarks as he introduced a speech by President Bush at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University that China broadcast live on national television.

In the first meeting between the two leaders, Vice President Hu talked with Mr Bush before the speech, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan. He said Mr Hu thanked the president for an invitation for the vice president to visit the United States.

"It was a friendly chat," he told reporters, without giving any other details.

Vice President Hu, 59, is little known abroad and at home rarely appears in public.

This is only the second time he has spoken at length on national Chinese television.

The first time was in the aftermath of the NATO bombing of China's embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999, when he delivered a speech describing violent protests outside the US Embassy in Beijing as expressions of "patriotic anger."

His conciliatory tone with President Bush fit with the more amicable air of recent relations, helped partly by cooperation following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Vice President Hu's own daughter is reported to be attending graduate school in the United States under an assumed name, and in his speech he said exchanges among young people were a key to Chinese-American relations.

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