Obama meets Bush, tours new home (Lead)

November 11th, 2008 - 8:01 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 11 (DPA) US President-elect Barack Obama Monday met with the man whose role he will fill in January, as he and wife Michelle came to the White House for talks with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.The two men shook hands, while their wives exchanged a quick hug, before posing for pictures outside the executive mansion.

Bush then guided Obama to the Oval Office for private talks that lasted more than an hour and that Bush described as “good, constructive, relaxed and friendly,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

“The president enjoyed his visit with the president-elect, and he again pledged a smooth transition to the next administration,” she said.

The White House said the discussions covered a broad range of domestic and international issues, but would not provide further details about the private talks. Topics likely included the faltering US economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the threat of terrorist attacks during the political transition.

Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement, “They had a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation’s many critical economic and security challenges.”

Bush was a much-reviled figure on the campaign trail, as Obama attacked the unpopular president’s handling of the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while accusing Republican rival John McCain of seeking to continue those policies.

But despite any hard feelings generated by months of political attacks, Bush welcomed the Obamas and discussed the business of governing with his successor in the traditional meeting that is part of the peaceful handover of power between all US presidents.

“Of course they have difference on policies, but they both love their country equally, and their love of country they’re going to put first, and then they’ll work together to make sure that they have everything that they need, going forward,” Perino said ahead of the meeting, noting Bush understands that animosity is just part of politics.

The two men, will be part of “a very small club, who understand what it’s like to be the commander in chief, to be the leader of our great country,” Perino said.

While their husbands held private talks, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama toured the president’s residential quarters, including bedrooms used by previous presidential children. President Bush also showed Obama the living quarters and other rooms.

Michelle Obama also met with the White House chief usher, Admiral Stephen Rochon, who heads the household staff.

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