US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have announced that they have reached a "common understanding" on addressing cyber spying for commercial purposes, and agreed that neither country would conduct or knowingly support hacking.

At a joint press conference on Friday, Obama said he raised "serious concerns" about growing cyber threats with Xi, and that the Chinese leader has pledged more cooperation.  

"I indicated that it has to stop," Obama said. "This is progress, but I have to insist that our work is not yet done."


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Xi, for his part, agreed that the countries would not "knowingly support" cybertheft and promised to abide by "norms of behaviour" in cyberspace.

"Confrontation and friction are not the right choice for both sides," Xi said.

Both countries claim they do not engage in cybertheft of commercial secrets, one of the deep differences that have threatened ties between the world's two largest economies.

Overall, Obama said, the two leaders' state visit had yielded "an extremely productive meeting," adding that their candid conversations on areas of disagreement "help us to understand each other better."

The White House's concerns over China's cyberattacks in the US have caused particular strain ahead of Xi's visit.

Ahead of the meeting, Obama had faced calls from some Republican presidential candidates to scale back the grandeur of Xi's visit, which included an Oval Office meeting, a joint news conference in the Rose Garden and a glitzy black-tie dinner.

Reducing carbon emissions

On climate change, an area where the two countries have been cooperating, China said it will commit $3.1bn to help developing countries reduce carbon emissions, one of a series of measures taken with the US to combat global warming.

A joint statement listed a series of measures taken to flesh out their pledge, made last year, to work to reduce emissions.

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The US earlier pledged $3 billion to a United Nations fund to aid developing nations reduce emissions.

Xi, speaking through a translator, called on the US and China to be "broadminded about differences and disagreements". He made no specific mention of the controversial issues Obama raised.

On the thorny issue of China's disputed territorial claims, which have unnerved some US partners in Asia, Xi said China has "the right to uphold our own sovereignty".

But he promised respect for freedom of navigation and overflight.

Obama said he had "candid" discussions with Xi, and that he "reiterated the right of all countries to freedom of navigation and over-flight and to unimpeded commerce."

"I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarisation of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully. And I encouraged a resolution between claimants in this area," Obama said.

Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from the White House, said that from the statements of Obama and Xi, it was clear that the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas would remain an issue in the countries' relationship.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies