Obama has extraordinary lunch with current, former presidents

January 8th, 2009 - 4:16 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 8 (DPA) US President George W. Bush met his successor, Barack Obama, along with three former presidents, over lunch Wednesday to offer advice and wish him well.”One message I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed,” Bush said in the Oval Office. “Whether we’re a Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country.”

Joining Bush and Obama were Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was the first gathering of all living presidents at the White House since 1981, spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The former presidents were expected to share their experiences with the incoming one, including policy in the Middle East and on other topics.

“I just want to thank the president for hosting us,” Obama said. “This is an extraordinary gathering. All of the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office.”

“And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel, and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I’m very grateful to all of them,” Obama added.

Bush and Obama had a private one-on-one meeting before the other presidents joined them.

While this is the first meeting of all former presidents at the White House in more than two decades, they have previously attended presidential funerals and ceremonies to inaugurate presidential libraries.

The last such White House gathering was hosted by Ronald Reagan and included Carter, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

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