Obama meets with old friends before flying back to Washington

POSTED: 10:21 AM PDT Jun 09, 2013    UPDATED: 11:22 AM PDT Jun 09, 2013 
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

President Barack Obama squeezed in a round of golf with his old Honolulu crew before departing the Coachella Valley today, following two days of meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Conferring at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Obama and Xi agreed Saturday to work on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, setting a goal of erasing 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, an amount that would add up to about two years worth of current greenhouse gas levels.

Xi left Sunnylands at about noon Saturday, and drove in a motorcade back to Ontario International Airport. All traffic was cleared from a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 10 for that motorcade.

The President played a morning round of golf with the old chums from Punanou High School -- Mike ramos, Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb. A witness aid the group was laughing and "generally having a good time by all appearances," according to a pool reporter.

The president was to drive to Palm Springs International Airport for a scheduled 10:30 a.m. flight back to Washington.

According to the agreement between the U.S. and China, the two nations have "agreed to work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to include (hydrocarbons) within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol provisions for accounting and reporting of emissions."

The UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change.

On Friday, Obama and Xi discussed cyber security during their first meeting.

"What both President Xi and I recognize is that because of these incredible advances in technology that the issue of cyber security and the need for rules and common approaches to cyber security are going to be increasingly important as part of bilateral relationships and multilateral relationships," Obama said.

"In some ways, these are uncharted waters and you don't have the kinds of protocols that cover military issues for examples and arms issues where nations have a lot of experience in trying to negotiate what's acceptable and what's not."

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told a media gathering at Palm Springs' Westin Mission Hills hotel that Obama and Xi discussed the broad aspects and potential ramifications of distrust caused by long-term Chinese cyber-hacking.

"The specific issue that (Obama and Xi) talked about (Friday) is the issue of cyber-enabled economic theft -- theft of intellectual property and other kinds of property in the public and private realm in the U.S. by entities based in China," Donilon said.

"(Obama) went through this in some detail," Donilon said. "(Obama) asked the Chinese government to engage on this issue and understand that ... if it continues to be this direct theft of U.S. property, that this was going to be a very difficult problem in the (U.S. and China's) economic relationship and was going to be an inhibitor to the relationship really reaching its full potential."

Donilon said the critical point of the conversation was that it demonstrated cyber security was now a keystone in unencumbered U.S.-Chinese relations.

"It is not an adjunct issue," Donilon said. "It's an issue that is very much on the table at this point."

Speaking through an interpreter, Xi said "the Chinese government is firm in upholding cyber security and we have major concerns about cyber security."

Xi said he noticed "a sharp increase in media coverage" of cyber security in the days before his meeting with Obama, that might "give people the sense or feeling that cyber security as a threat mainly comes from China or that the issue (of) cyber security is the biggest problem in the U.S.-China relationship.

"We need to pay close attention to this issue and study ways to effectively resolve this issue," Xi said. "This matter can actually be an area for China and the United States to work together ... in a pragmatic way."

Obama and Xi additionally tackled such thorny questions as North Korea's nuclear program.

Xi -- who became China's president in March -- met with Obama last year, when he was China's vice president.

He expressed the belief that he and Obama see "that to avoid ... this trap of rivalry between a rising power and an established power, that it's important to put in place ... bilateral mechanisms that allow them to deal with the greatest sources of instability and competition."