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U.S., China End Talks Without Accord On Boosting Yuan

The United States and China concluded two days of high-level economic talks on Wednesday with a variety of minor agreements but failed to make progress in their dispute over China's undervalued currency.

"While we have much more work to do, we have tangible results for our efforts thus far," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said at a concluding briefing. "These results are like signposts on the long-term strategic road, building confidence and encouraging us to continue moving forward together."

Paulson said in a statement that the two countries agreed on a wide variety of next steps to be taken in such areas as financial services, energy and the environment and civil aviation.

Paulson said the two sides would also cooperate in the development of clean energy technology, something critical in China, a country that depends heavily on coal-fired power plants.

'A Complete Success'

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, the head of the Chinese delegation, called the talks "a complete success."

"Through the dialogue we have reached much consensus and realized positive results," she told reporters. But Wu said through an interpreter that the talks should serve a constructive purpose and keep the countries from reverting to the "easy resort to threat and sanctions."

However, the two sides failed to make progress in one of the biggest economic issues separating the countries: China's undervalued currency.

The Chinese delegation was scheduled to meet Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They were to meet on Thursday with President Bush.

Senior U.S. officials had tamped down expectations of major breakthroughs at the talks, which they described as strategic discussions, not negotiating sessions.

Simmering Frustration

Still, the U.S. side made a point of noting simmering frustration. Paulson said Americans are by nature impatient people; U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez described the "need to make progress in all areas as soon as possible."

The urgency is reflected in an increasingly restive U.S. Congress, where lawmakers are considering a spate of bills that would impose economic sanctions on China. Many blame America's soaring trade deficits and the loss of one in six manufacturing jobs since 2000 in part on claims of Chinese currency manipulation and copyright piracy.

Paulson created the talks last year as a way to get the countries' top policy makers together twice a year to work toward reduced trade tensions. The first meeting was in Beijing last December.

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