WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama and President Bush gathered for their first face-to-face meeting Monday, an Oval Office session that came during a historic shifting of power to a new administration.
Neither the incoming nor the current president spoke to reporters at Obama's arrival or departure Monday afternoon. Bush walked Obama to his limousine as he left.
The Obamas spent just under two hours at the White House.
Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived at the South Portico 11 minutes early with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush waiting for them. Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama enjoyed a warm greeting, while the president and his successor exchanged smiles and a handshake.
Taking a bit of prerogative, the president-elect put his left hand on Mr. Bush's back as the two couples entered the Diplomatic Reception Room.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama strolled along the Colonnade and waved for their cameras while their wives began a meeting of their own. The president and the president-elect then headed into the Oval Office to talk about the future of the country, with topics likely including the financial crisis and the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush allowed Mr. Obama to enter the historic office first.
It was the president-elect's first visit to the White House since his landslide election victory - and his first visit ever to the Oval Office.
Prior to the meeting, there were few indications as to how it might be structured.
"They are treating it as a very private function," said CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.
The scene was a sunny fall day with moderate temperatures and colorful - but fading - autumn leaves.
The Obamas' arrival had the look of a foreign head-of-state state visit - although there were no fife and drum bands, speeches or official pageantry.
Mr. Bush invited Mr. Obama for the private talk, a rite of passage between presidents and successors that extends for decades.