Bush, Obama to meet Monday at White House

Barack Obama will make his first visit to the White House as president-elect on Monday for talks with President George W. Bush on crisis issues including Iraq and the economy, officials said.

In the first confirmed appointment of the nascent Obama administration meanwhile, sharp-elbowed congressman Rahm Emanuel agreed to serve as White House chief of staff after agonizing over family concerns.

The president-elect announced that he would hold his first news conference since Tuesday's historic election win over Republican John McCain on Friday, after meeting his team of high-powered economic advisors.

Bush said he had directed there to be "unprecedented" cooperation between the White House and Obama before the president-elect is inaugurated on January 20.

"In the coming weeks, we will ask administration officials to brief the Obama team on ongoing policy issues ranging from the financial markets to the war in Iraq," Bush said at the White House.

"I look forward to discussing those issues with the president-elect early next week."

The outgoing two-term president also warned that terrorists may try to use the handover of power period to strike at the United States.

"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.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Obama and wife, Michelle, would Monday visit the White House, which will be their home after the inauguration on January 20.

"The Bushes will greet the Obamas, and then the president will visit with the president-elect in the Oval Office. Mrs Bush and Mrs Obama will meet in and tour the private residence," Perino said in a statement.

Obama said in a statement that he looked forward to meeting Bush, whom he lambasted on an almost hourly basis on the campaign trail.

"I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship that will be required to meet the many challenges we face as a nation," Obama said.

Emanuel's decision to accept the crucial chief of staff job makes him the first senior level official to join the Obama administration.

"No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel," said Obama in a statement.

"The son of an Israeli immigrant, Rahm shares a passionate love for this country, and has devoted much of his life to its cause."

Emanuel, a former enforcer in the Clinton White House, offered a rare olive branch to his foes on the Republican side of the aisle.

"I want to say a special word about my Republican colleagues, who serve with dignity, decency and a deep sense of patriotism. We often disagree, but I respect their motives," he said.

"Now is a time for unity, Mr President-Elect, I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose."

Illinois lawmaker Emanuel, 48, knows Washington inside-out as a veteran of the Clinton White House, and is credited with masterminding the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in 2006.

Emanuel is a sharp-elbowed, sometimes profane political operator who is fiercely committed to Democratic ideals and often has harsh words for Republicans.

His appointment stirred the first-post election attacks from the demoralized Republican Party.

"This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center," said John Boehner, the Republican minority leader in the House.

ABC News meanwhile reported that campaign chief strategist David Axelrod had agreed to do a similar job in the White House.

Communications czar Robert Gibbs meanwhile said that reports he would be White House press secretary were "premature."

Obama will address the press at 1:30 pm (1930 GMT) on Friday in a Chicago hotel, his campaign said in a statement.

The news conference will follow the meeting with Obama's economic team including former Treasury secretaries Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, ex-Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker and Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

Summers and Volcker are among names touted to take over as Obama's chief economic overseer.

New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner is also mentioned, along with Laura Tyson, chairwoman of the National Economic Council in Bill Clinton's White House.


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