Obama and Romney to have White House lunch

Mitt Romney takes the stage as he prepares to concede the election (6 Nov) Mitt Romney has made no public appearances since losing the election

US President Barack Obama is to have lunch at the White House with defeated Republican election rival Mitt Romney, officials have confirmed.

Thursday's face-to-face will be their first meeting since Mr Obama overcame Mr Romney in the 6 November election.

On election night Mr Obama pledged to meet the former Massachusetts governor for talks on how to "move this country forward".

The pair sparred in a bitter campaign and are said to have little rapport.

Over the course of three presidential debates, Mr Obama and Mr Romney interrupted each other frequently and sniped aggressively over policy and principle.

'Fiscal cliff' talks

However, they are now to meet in the private dining room at the White House.

The media will not be permitted to cover the lunch, the White House said on Wednesday.

"Only the two men will be in the room and I'm sure it will be a useful discussion," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday.

The meeting comes as Mr Obama and the Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans over the impending "fiscal cliff" - a combination of tax rises and spending cuts set to occur on 1 January.

The measures were partly put in place within a 2011 deal to curb the yawning US budget deficit, but also include the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.

During the campaign, Mr Romney called for sharp spending and tax cuts to fix the deficit. Mr Obama insists the wealthy should pay more in taxes.

Mr Romney has dropped out of sight since the election, and analysts say he has little influence on congressional Republicans.

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