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Obama Takes in the Sights of Beijing

5685144BEIJING -- When he's not been pressing the Chinese on human rights, or asking them to change their economic policy, or seeking their help on stopping North Korea and Iran's nuclear weapons programs, President Obama is taking in the sights of Beijing.

Between high level meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao and a formal and lavish state dinner last night, the president toured the Forbidden City, once the home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

While the president didn't see all of the 9,999 buildings in the 178 acre complex, he did see the Hall of Central Harmony, the Hall of Preserving Harmony, the Central Garden and the Imperial Garden, where the ruling families spent leisure time.

Mr. Obama signed a guest book at the bowed to his tour guides. "Thank you, it was a wonderful tour," he said.

Photo Essay: Obama in China

(White House photo)
On his way out he responded to a question shouted by the Chinese press: "It's beautiful… what a magnificent place to visit." He said he'd like to bring his family back to see it.

On Wednesday, he does some additional sight-seeing, heading to the Great Wall of China before leaving the country for his trip's final stop in South Korea.

Mr. Obama will tour the wall at Badaling. Originally built during the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), the area of the Wall was of strategic importance as it is only about an hour outside the capital of Beijing. In 1957, the section was the first part of the wall opened to tourists and had its first presidential visitor, Richard Nixon, in 1972 during his tour of China.



More Coverage from Robert Hendin on President Obama's Trip to Asia:

U.S., China Fuel Each Other's Bad Habits
President Obama, Can We Twitter?
Inside the Japanese White House
For Obama in Asia, Focus Will be Economy


Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.