Tuesday, January 18, 2011

President Obama, President Hu Have Dinner At The White House

An intimate dinner before the formal State Visit...
In advance of the whirlwind of activity for the State Visit that begins tomorrow morning, President Obama welcomed President Hu Jintao of China to Washington, DC this evening, for a small, private dinner. (Above, President Obama greets Hu before the dinner begins)

Held in the Old Family Dining Room in the Residence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon were also in attendance, as were their Chinese counterparts. The "unusually small" small dinner was supposed to give the leaders an opportunity for "candid conversation," Donilon said last week.

"This provides a bit of an informal setting in which to have some of these discussions," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday.

Trade, currency, North Korea, human rights and other issues will be in the spotlight for the next three days.

President Hu arrived to freezing temperatures and icy conditions at Andrews Air Force Base at 4:30 PM, where he was formally welcomed to the US by Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall. A military honor guard saluted Hu and a military band played the national anthems of both countries as Hu and Biden stood on a red carpet on the air base tarmac.

On Wednesday, there will be a formal State Visit arrival ceremony in the morning, followed by a day of meetings. In the evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a State Dinner for Hu. The guest list and menu have not been released, but dinner begins at 7:35 PM in the State Dining Room, which has a seating capacityof 140 guests. A reception will follow at 8:55 PM in the East Room.

*The State Visit schedule is here

Related: Read all about how State Dinners are created. At the State Department on Friday, Sec. Clinton delivered a major address on US-China relations in the 21st century. Read the press briefing on the State Visit. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was among the first invitees to publicly announce that she'd been invited to the State Dinner. House Speaker John Boehner declined his invitation. The White House announced the State Visit in December of 2010.

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House