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Obama, McCain Meet in Chicago

President-elect Barack Obama and his former Republican opponent Senator John McCain say they hope they can work together in the months ahead on a range of critical issues facing the country. The two former rivals met in Chicago Monday where they issued a joint statement. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

The two men met in President-elect Obama's transition headquarters in Chicago. It was their first meeting since the November 4 election.

Before the meeting began, Mr. Obama briefly spoke with reporters.

"We are just going to have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he has already rendered," he said.

Reporters asked Senator McCain if he planned to help the incoming Obama administration. McCain responded with one word - obviously.

Afterward, the two men issued a joint statement that said Americans of all parties want their leaders to come together to change the bad habits of Washington. The statement went on to say that the two former rivals had a productive conversation about the need to launch a new era of reform to restore trust in government. Mr. Obama and Senator McCain also said they hope to work together on critical challenges like solving the financial crisis and protecting the nation's security.

The meeting came after a long and bruising presidential campaign in which the two rivals clashed over taxes, how to fix the ailing U.S. economy and the war in Iraq.

Senator McCain did give a gracious concession speech on election night, and he and Mr. Obama agreed to meet after McCain placed a concession phone call to the president-elect.

In an interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes, Mr. Obama said once he takes office in January he will do whatever it takes to stabilize the economy and create jobs.

Mr. Obama was also asked about his meeting last week with Senator Hillary Clinton and reports that he might ask her to be his secretary of state.

"She is somebody who I needed advice and counsel from. She is one of the most thoughtful public officials that we have. Beyond that, you are not getting anything out of me," he said.

Political experts note that the new president will face a wide range of challenges when he takes office on January 20. In addition to the economic situation, Mr. Obama will face military challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus demands that he follow through on his domestic proposals on health care reform and energy policy.

William Galston of the Brookings Institution appeared on VOA's Encounter program.

"By the time he assumes office, I am quite sure that the central issue will continue to be overwhelmingly the condition of the economy," he said. "And so, I would expect him to focus like a laser beam on the two aspects of this crisis, namely the meltdown of financial institutions and the spillover into the real economy, the threat of a recession that is both longer and deeper than anyone predicted just a few months ago," said Galston.

The Obama transition team is expected to announce additional White House staff appointments in the days ahead, as well as the first appointments to the new cabinet.