President Obama meets with President Hu Jintao of China on Monday at the Nuclear Security Summit. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images.)
President Barack Obama is set to open the first plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit on Tuesday morning, the second day of meetings between leaders of 47 nations in Washington.
Although Obama and Hu both agreed to step up pressure on Iran, there remain differences in how that would be accomplished. The United States wants to impose tougher sanctions, while China wants to stress diplomacy.
“China always believes that negotiations and dialogue are the best way out of this situation, not exerting pressure,” Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday in Beijing. But she added that China supports a “dual-track strategy,” combining diplomacy with the possibility of international sanctions.
Politico’s Laura Rozen writes that Iran is the main topic of discussion on the sidelines of the summit. With a new United Nations Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran possibly in the works, talks are centering on “the Chinese, Russians and Turks, folks that need to come along on the sanctions track,” a reporter told Rozen.
President Obama has a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey later Tuesday. The president will deliver remarks at 9:30 A.M. and hold a news conference at 4:30 P.M.
On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will sign an amendment to the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Disposition Agreement on Tuesday, Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reports.
The signing ceremony will update the disposal deal originally agreed to 10 years ago, when both nations agreed to destroy 34 metric tons of plutonium. The agreement never went into force due to disputes about the international funding assistance Russia said it needed for implementation.
Another topic Obama and Hu discussed Monday was calls by the United States for China to revalue its currency, the yuan. Many economists believe China keeps the yuan artificially low to give them an export advantage. A stronger yuan would make Chinese goods more expensive in the United States, while bolstering U.S. exports by bringing down the cost of American goods in China.
It was the second time in a week that the administration has tried to persuade China on the issue. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met a high-ranking Chinese official on Thursday in Beijing for talks on the currency issue.
But Monday yielded no breakthrough. “Detailed measures for reform would be considered in the context of the world’s economic situation, its development and changes as well as China’s economic conditions. It won’t be advanced by any foreign pressure,” Hu said in remarks released by China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. He said reform would come based on China’s “own economic and social development needs.”
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