Alexa

White House signals improving relations with China

White House signals improving relations with China

The White House is signaling an improvement in relations between the U.S. and China amid news that the Chinese leader will attend a nuclear security summit in Washington later this month.
President Barack Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao he welcomed the decision during an hourlong phone call Obama took Thursday night on Air Force One. The White House said afterward the summit will be an important opportunity for the U.S. and China "to address their shared interest in stopping nuclear proliferation and protecting against nuclear terrorism."
Obama also underscored the importance of working with China in ongoing discussions about Iran's nuclear program, the White House said.
Reports conflict on whether China is willing to consider new United Nations sanctions against Iran.
U.S. officials said this week that a Chinese representative committed to discuss specifics of a potential Security Council resolution in a phone call Wednesday with officials from the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. But one day later, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reiterated the China's longtime stance of wanting the dispute settled through negotiations.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs wouldn't comment Friday on discussions with China, telling reporters only that the U.S. is "very pleased with the progress we've made."
China has veto power in the U.N. Security Council, and its support would be key to passing a resolution against Iran, which is suspected of developing nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful power generation.
The U.S. and China have been looking to ease a recent spike in tensions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the Dalai Lama's meeting with Obama at the White House. There is speculation that Hu's visit to Washington could also help avert another potential minefield: being labeled a "currency manipulator" by the U.S. Treasury Department because of its practice of pegging the yuan to the U.S. dollar, making Chinese exports cheap.
The Treasury Department is under pressure to make that assertion in a foreign exchange rate report due out April 15, the same week Hu attends the nuclear summit.
Gibbs said no decision has been made on whether to delay the report.