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Barack Obama

Highlights of Obama interview with Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday gave Reuters an interview ahead of his trip to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea later this week.

Here are some highlights:

CHINA CURRENCY

“Tim Geithner, my Treasury Secretary, has been talking extensively to his counterpart, not only about currency issues but the whole array of factors that have contributed to these imbalances. That broader conversation will be at the center of our conversations with the Chinese delegation.”

“Currency, along with a host of other issues, will come up, and I’m confident that both the United States and China can arrive at a broad set of policies that encourages trade that benefits both countries, that allows ongoing economic growth.”

“It is particularly important for us when it comes to Asia as a whole to recognize that in the absence of a more robust export strategy it is going to be hard for us to rebuild our manufacturing base and employment base in this country.”

“They (China) have a huge amount of U.S. dollars that they are holding, so our success is important to them. The flipside of that is that if we don’t solve some of these problems, then I think both economically and politically it will put enormous strains on the relationship.”

CHINA TRADE

“I see China as a vital partner, as well as a competitor. The key is for us to make sure that that competition is friendly and it is competition for customers, markets; it is within the bounds of well-defined international rules of the road that China and the United States are party to.”

“It is very hard to see how we succeed or China succeeds in our respective goals, without working together.”

“Our manufacturers, I think, would have legitimate concerns about our ability to sell into China.”

CHINA RIGHTS

“We believe in the values of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, that are not just core American values but we believe are universal values. And there has not been a meeting with the Chinese delegation in which we did not bring these issues up. That will continue.

CLIMATE

“After eight years in which there was resistance to even acknowledging the problem, I think my administration has been very clear that we intend to be a leader on this issue internationally.

“If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over the edge, then certainly that’s something that I will do.”

IRAN

“It is going to take time and part of the challenge that we face is that neither North Korea nor Iran seem to be settled enough politically to make quick decisions on these issues.”

AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY

“My obligation, my solemn obligation as commander-in-chief is to get this right and then I worry about people’s perceptions later.”

NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION

“I would strongly argue that we have made more progress on this issue over the last several months than we have seen in the last several years.”

MISTAKES

“Oh, we make at least one mistake a day (smiling). But I’m going to say this, I don’t think we’ve made big mistakes ... in terms of the core decisions that we’ve made to rescue the economy, to move forward on a path for moving our troops from Iraq, on making sure that we’ve gone through a rigorous process in Afghanistan to how we have moved healthcare to a place that seven Presidents have not been able to get to. I feel very good about our progress.”

(For a map of President Obama’s itinerary click on

here)

Reporting by Ross Colvin, editing by Anthony Boadle

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