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Hu to Bush: Time to lift US ties to a higher level

updated: 2008-08-11

China is ready to work with the US to take bilateral relations to a higher level in a sustained, healthy and stable manner, President Hu Jintao said Sunday.

At a meeting with his US counterpart George W. Bush in Zhongnanhai, the central authorities' compound, Hu said China has always seen its ties with the US from a long-term and strategic perspective.

Hu expressed sympathy for the fatal attack on a US tourist at the Drum Tower in Beijing on Saturday, too.

The two sides, he said, have had frequent exchanges at all levels, set up a better mechanism for dialogue in diverse areas, and held fruitful consultations on major international and regional matters such as the Korea Peninsula and Iran nuclear issues, and the Darfur problem.

Praising Bush for his contribution to promoting bilateral ties, he said: "This is your fourth visit … it makes you the US president who has visited China the most … and demonstrates the great importance (you have) attached to the development of Sino-US ties."

Bush said bilateral ties were important, constructive and forthright. The US will continue to work with China to strengthen bilateral ties.

Regretting the fatal attack on US national Todd Bachman, 62, Hu said: "I express my heartfelt sympathy to you and the family of the victims over this unfortunate incident."

Tang Yongming, a jobless resident of Hangzhou, stabbed Bachman to death and left his wife Barbara with grievous injuries before leaping to his death from the second floor of the Drum Tower.

Barbara underwent an eight-hour surgery and was reported to be in a critical but stable condition Sunday.

The couple's tour guide, who too was attacked, is out of danger, though.

The Bachmans are the parents-in-law of US men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. "We are absolutely devastated by what has occurred … for their loss and for everything they are going through," the team said in a joint statement.

The attack has come as a shock to the Chinese people, from the top leadership to the man on the street.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials visited Barbara at the hospital on Saturday, under Hu's instruction. Health Minister Chen Zhu, too, paid a visit to ensure she got the best treatment.

The US embassy said the attack on the Bachmans appeared to be "a senseless act of violence … This appears to be an isolated act with no connection to the Olympics."