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Obama meets Bush, tours White house

President-elect Barack Obama on Monday met with the man whose role he will fill in January, as he and wife Michelle came to the White House for talks with President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

The two men shook hands, while their wives exchanged a quick hug, before posing for pictures outside the executive mansion.

Bush then guided Obama to the Oval Office for private talks that likely included the faltering economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and terrorist threats.

Bush was a much-reviled figure on the campaign trail, as Obama attacked the unpopular president's handling of the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while accusing Republican rival John McCain of seeking to continue those policies.

But despite any hard feelings generated by months of political attacks, Bush welcomed the Obamas and discussed the business of governing with his successor in the traditional meeting that is part of the peaceful handover of power between all US presidents.

'Of course they have difference on policies, but they both love their country equally, and their love of country they're going to put first, and then they'll work together to make sure that they have everything that they need, going forward,' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said ahead of the meeting, noting Bush understands that animosity is just part of politics.

The two men, will be part of 'a very small club, who understand what it's like to be the commander in chief, to be the leader of our great country,' Perino said. Though she would not provide details about what the men were to discuss, the faltering US economy as well as the threat of terrorist attacks during the political transition will likely be on the table.

In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Bush warned of the dangers that are part of the first presidential transition since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

'This will also be America's first wartime presidential transition in four decades. We're in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us - and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people,' he said.

As part of the transition, Obama has begun receiving intelligence briefings and will also be briefed on other major issues, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While their husbands held private talks, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama toured the president's residential quarters, including bedrooms used by previous presidential children, and were likely to discuss raising a family in the White House, Perino said.

The Obamas have two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who will be the first young children in the executive mansion since Chelsea Clinton, who was 12 when her father Bill Clinton became president in 1993. The Bushes have two adult daughters, Jenna and Barbara, who were attending university when their father entered office.

'We are gratified by the invitation. I'm sure that, in addition to taking a tour of the White House, there's going to be a substantive conversation between myself and the president,' Obama said at a press conference on Friday.

'I'm going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and a sense that both the president and various leaders in Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done,' he added.

Despite their political differences, Bush has praised Obama for his historic election victory and pledged to do everything to make for a smooth transition. Obama for his part has stressed that while he is eager to get to work that Bush remains the country's leader until January 20.

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