Obama makes historic White House visit

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama visited the White House on Monday for his first post-election meeting with President George W. Bush, a strikingly symbolic moment in the historic transition of power in Washington.

The outgoing president and first lady Laura Bush greeted Obama and his wife Michelle with smiles and handshakes as they stepped from their limousine to begin a tour of what will be their new home after Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20.

The two men were headed to the Oval Office where they were expected to discuss the global financial crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other challenges the Republican president will bequeath to his Democratic successor.

It was their first face-to-face encounter -- a visit steeped in symbolism -- following Obama's resounding victory over Republican John McCain in Tuesday's election, which will make him America's first black chief executive.

Obama, 47, had repeatedly attacked Bush's "failed policies" on the campaign trail and once said he had a lot to answer for after eight years in office. The Illinois senator swept to power campaigning on a theme of change -- specifically, change from the unpopular president's approach to economics and foreign affairs.

Obama's aides say after taking office he will likely move quickly to roll back Bush's executive orders that limit stem cell research and expand oil and gas drilling in some areas.

There was no outward sign of tension, however, as the Obamas began their White House visit.

Presidents-in-waiting traditionally make a trip to the White House between Election Day and inauguration but usually wait longer than Obama did.

He came calling after only six days, underscoring a sense of urgency in the transition process. It will be the first wartime transfer of presidential power in four decades and also comes as economic turmoil is shaking world markets. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, editing by David Alexander)