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May 31, 2013

California fundraising to precede Obama meeting with Chinese president

President Obama will meet in California next week with Chinese President Xi Jinping -- after a pair of California fundraisers.

Obama will hold an event in San Jose on Thursday for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and one in Los Angeles on Friday for the Democratic National Committee. He and Xi will meet later at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg estate, in Palm Springs.

Though Obama generally holds press availabilities with visiting dignitaries, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said a formal news conference was unlikely.

Earnest said the White House was "working through the logistics of the press setup" with its Chinese counterparts and that the White House was "working to try to make sure that there's an opportunity for the presidents to take a question or two."

Though Chinese presidents rarely take questions from the press, Earnest said it wasn't pressure from the Chinese that was slowing the setup, but "logistics." The event, he said, is "intended to be an informal gathering" for the two presidents.

The trip comes as China renews efforts to court booming economies in Latin American and the Caribbean -- prime trading partners for the U.S. Xi is there now; Vice President Joe Biden returns from a trip today, aimed at boosting U.S. efforts on trade.

With reports out this week that Chinese hackers got access to U.S. weapons systems, cyber hacking is expected to be at the top of the two presidents' agenda.

Earnest told reporters that the administration is "concerned about intrusions that are emanating from China" and it's something that's been raised with the Chinese.

"And it's something that the president will raise in the context of this forum next weekend," Earnest said. "This is something that the president has identified and that the Pentagon has identified as a national security priority."

"This is something that is a priority of the president's because of the significant national security implications involved."

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