The presidents will discuss issues ranging from trade to human rights during Hu's first US visit since 2006 [Reuters]

The US has unveiled a series of commercial deals with China, as well as a deal on enhanced cooperation on nuclear security, as the countries' presidents meet for talks in Washington.

The White House said on Wednesday that China had committed to buying $45bn worth of exports from the US, including a $19bn deal for 200 Boeing air planes. Boeing said the aircraft will be delivered over the three-year period 2011-2013.

The various deals will altogether support up to 235,000 jobs in 12 US states, according to the White House. In addition to the Boeing deal, China will also invest in US exports from agriculture, telecommunications and technology companies, including General Electric, Honeywell and Navistar.

A separate deal was also signed to increase cooperation between the two countries on nuclear security. The deal, signed by officials from both countries, will see the establishment of a jointly financed nuclear security centre in China.

The venture is aimed at training to improve security at nuclear facilities and accounting on nuclear materials. US officials also hope to hold joint exercises on responding to nuclear disasters and to share nuclear detection techology.

'Enormous stake'

Barack Obama, the US president, said the four-day visit by Hu Jintao, his Chinese counterpart, was laying the foundation for deeper prosperity between their two nations.

"With this visit we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years,'' Obama said at a grand arrival ceremony outside the White House on Wednesday.

"We have an enormous stake in each other's success. In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations including our own will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together."

'New progress'

Hu in return said that since Obama took office "our co-operation in various fields has produced fruitful results and our relations have achieved new progress."

He also said co-operation between the US and China should be based on mutual respect, and that the two countries should respect each others' interests and development paths.

Hu's comments suggested limits to the US ability to pressure China on issues ranging from the alleged undervaluing of the Chinese currency to Beijing's growing military power.

"We'll continue to look for the value of China's currency to be increasingly driven by the market to ensure no nation has an undue economic advantage"

Barack Obama

Obama said in the presidents' joint press conference later in the day that the yuan "remains undervalued and there needs to be further adjustment."

"We'll continue to look for the value of China's currency to be increasingly driven by the market to ensure no nation has an undue economic advantage," he said, adding that this should also be in China's interest, to prevent inflation from looming.

Hu referred without elaboration to "some disagreements" in the economic and trade area, which he said the two countries would aim to resolve.

The US exports $100bn of goods and services to China, making the country its largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico.

China is also the largest foreign holder of US debt.

Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from the White House, said the presidents' meeting was aimed at "resetting relations", as the two countries were trying to "find their footing in a more equal relationship".

"From the Chinese perspective, they have the argument of 'We hold a lot of your debt, in fact you [US] owe us almost about $900bn'", she said.

"The US argument to the Chinese is 'You need us just as much because you need to be able to sell your goods in our open market place'".

Joe Biden, the US vice-president, is due to visit China later this year, President Hu said after an official lunch at the State Department on Wednesday.

Human rights

During his welcome speech, Obama touched upon one of the main areas of contention between the two nations, urging Hu to uphold human rights in his country.

"History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld," Obama said.

In the press conference, Obama said he had raised various human rights issues with Hu, and that the US and China had agreed to move ahead with a dialogue in that field.

"I have been very candid with President Hu about those issues," he said.

An official later confirmed that the US president had brought up the issue of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel peace prize winner, directly with his Chinese counterpart.

Obama said he had urged China to engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

"As the United States recognises Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China, the United States suggests dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama to resolve differences in preserving the religious identity of the Tibetan people," Obama said.

As Hu arrived, hundreds of people outside the entrance to the White House chanted: "Stop the killing, Free Tibet."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies