Sunnylands closes gates ahead of presidential visit

POSTED: 08:28 AM PDT May 31, 2013    UPDATED: 09:27 AM PDT May 31, 2013 
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage will be closed to the public from today through June 9 for President Barack Obama's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"The primary mission of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is to provide a retreat space for world leaders to come together and discuss the most pressing issues of the day,"  a Sunnylands spokeswoman said.

Obama and his Chinese counterpart will meet at Sunnylands June 7-8 for "in-depth discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues." The world leaders "will review progress and challenges in U.S.-China relations over the past four years and discuss ways to enhance cooperation, while constructively managing our differences, in the years ahead," the White House said in a statement earlier this month.

The summit will be Obama's first with Xi, who became president in March.

Sunnylands will operate on regular schedule for the rest of June, and will be closed July and August. The estate opened to the public last year.

"We are profoundly honored that President Obama has chosen Sunnylands as the venue for this important meeting," said Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.

"(Ambassador) Walter and Leonore Annenberg were remarkable philanthropists and diplomats who hoped that their estate could become a `Camp David of the West,' where the president would meet with world leaders to promote global peace and facilitate international agreements. The upcoming meeting between President Obama and President Xi begins to fulfill that vision."

Sunnylands, which was built in the mid-1960s, has hosted presidents, foreign heads of state, Supreme Court justices and celebrities. Frequent guests included Ronald and Nancy Reagan -- who celebrated New Year's there every year of his presidency -- and George H.W. and Barbara Bush.

Under Reagan, a U.S-Canadian trade agreement was signed at Sunnylands, and the Bushes hosted a state dinner there in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu on one of the few occasions when a state dinner was held outside the White House.