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June 08, 2013

Obama and Xi start with a walk, Obama says talks have been "terrific"

President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, opened a second day of talks at California's Sunnylands retreat with a leisurely stroll.

The pair walked out of the main house at Sunnylands just after 9 a.m. local time. The White House planned a low-key summit and the attire was working casual: Obama wore a blue shirt, open collar, sleeves rolled up, and brown slacks. Xi wore a white shirt, open collar -- though with his sleeves buttoned down at the wrist, and black pants.

They exchanged words as they walked out of the house, with their interpreters following them and providing translation. The White House pool says it couldn't hear what they were saying.

But Obama signaled the talks were going well, telling a reporter who asked: "How have the meetings gone, Mr. President?"

 "Terrific," Obama replied.

The pool reports notes the pair "walked across a bucolic expanse of grass and over a pedestrian bridge near a pond, surveying the spectacular and lush landscape. The San Jacinto Mountains rose up in the distance."

The pool report described the gardens at the retreat as "lush," with rose beds named for former First Ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush. 

The pool was later brought into the main house at Sunnylands where Obama and Xi are meeting, but although photos were taken, the leaders didn't speak. With their suit coats back on but still tieless, they sat in the middle of a long table with their translators and delegations flanking them.

Obama sat next to Secretary of State John Kerry on one side and a translator on the other. They were joined by Rob Nabors, Tom Donilon and Danny Russel.

As the pool left the house it spotted a bench on the grass outside that appears to be a gift marking the summit. It was inscribed, "Presented to His Excellency Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China By Barack Obama President of the United States, Sunnylands Annenberg Estate, June 7-8, 2013." It also had a short statement written in Chinese.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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