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Obama, Bush deny economic policy bargaining
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Aides of U.S. president-elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush denied Tuesday there had been any bargaining on economic plans during the two people's Monday meeting at the White House.

Earlier reports said there had been attempts during the meeting to link a federal bailout of the struggling auto industry or a second stimulus package to passage of a Colombia free trade deal.

President George W. Bush walks with President-elect Barack Obama at the White House in Washington Nov. 10, 2008. [Xinhua/Reuters Photo]

Those two financial packages are favored by many Democrats, including Obama, while the free trade deal remains a top priority for the outgoing administration.

"The president does support free trade, but did not suggest a quid pro quo (with Obama)," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

"He did discuss the merits of free trade, but there was no linkage between Colombia free trade and a second stimulus package," she added.

Obama's transition team also said there was no "wheeling or dealing" between Obama and Bush during their private Oval Office meeting.

It said the president and the president-elect each listed his top priorities, but did not attempt to reach any agreements.

Obama is not "under any great illusion" that Bush will support a second economic stimulus plan, said the team.

The president-elect did, however, strongly urge Bush to support billions of dollars in aid for the struggling auto industry during the coming lame-duck session of Congress, according to three officials briefed on the meeting.

L-R: U.S. President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and president-elect Barack Obama stand outside the Diplomatic entrance of the White House in Washington. Obama, gearing up for his historic January 20 swearing-in, held his first face-to-face talks with Bush on Monday and got his first look at the Oval Office. [Xinhua/Reuters Photo]

The team said Bush expressed skepticism about giving taxpayer money to automakers on the heels of a string of government bailouts for other industries.

In addition, it said, the president urged Obama to help push through the free trade pact with Colombia -- a key legacy item for the outgoing administration that is facing stiff resistance from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)

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