Tim Russert is NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press.  He regularly offers MSNBC.com’s readers his insight and analysis into questions about politics past, present and future.

MSNBC:  Tim, Thursday saw the first Chinese President visit to the White House in nearly a decade, but did President George W. Bush and President Hu Jintao make any progress on any of the issue they needed to discuss?

Tim Russert:  It was a pretty difficult meeting.  Obviously the two big issues were North Koran an Iran. If the U.S. decides to go forward with recommending sanction against Iran to try to stop them from building their nuclear weapons, you need a unanimous vote in the United Nations Security Council.  I think the best the United States can hope for is that China abstains and not attempt to obstruct the U.S. attempt to pursue that path.  But China is very difficult to negotiate with and I don’t think there were any major breakthroughs Thursday.

MSNBC:  Why is China so adamant against sanctions?

Russert:  Their vision of the world is different than the United States’.  They have no problem dealing with countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East to buy oil, because their demands are so huge.

Much of the difficulty the U.S. is having with oil prices can be attributed, in part, to the problems in the Middle East, but also the voracious demand by China for oil.

MSNBC:  So, if China is going to do what it feels in its best interest – as would the U.S., can China be considered a partner in that sense, because, in many ways there are inconsistent messages coming from both nations?

Russert:  China thinks in terms of centuries.  They believe that they are a unique civilization that is going to rule the next century.  They have 1.3 billion people.  Their economy is growing at 10 percent a year.  Nothing is going to get in their way.  They’ll accommodate the United States when it’s in the Chinese interest, but nothing more.

MSNBC:  There were a number of slights and faux pas during Thursday’s meeting it was hard to imagine so many things like that could happen at once.

Russert:  Obviously the White House is deeply distressed by the protestor.  I happened to be at the White House luncheon Thursday and several diplomats said to me, “You know the Chinese will never accept the fact that this was nothing but deliberate.  It was on the White House grounds.  The Bush administration is well known for its ability to secure and choreograph events.”

As it turned out, it was a journalist who got a day pass.  She’s from New York.  The president had to apologize, but the Chinese were very unhappy.  And, in fact, that part of the ceremony was blacked out on Chinese TV.  That’s the kind of power the Chinese government has – and will use.

MSNBC:  Will Meet the Press be discussing this Sunday?

Russert:  We sure are, along with the future of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Our headline guest it the “liberal lion” from the state of Massachusetts, Democratic Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy.  We’ll find out what Sen. Kennedy thinks about Iraq, Iran and immigration - is there a viable Democratic alternative to those vexing problems?


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