Bill and Jiang Go Head-to-Head

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WASHINGTON: Two of the world's most powerful men will settle down in the White House for a quiet tete-a-tete Tuesday night.

Hoping to impress with the personal touch, President Clinton has invited Jiang Zemin for an hour-long private chat ahead of their formal summit Wednesday. It's not the first time Clinton has used such a tactic. Boris Yeltsin and Helmut Kohl have both enjoyed one-on-ones with the leader of the Free World.

But the amiable Jiang, who did the hula in Hawaii and spends most of Tuesday taking snaps of historic Williamsburg, may find the situation a little less comfortable.

The reason? There's simply too much to talk about. Even leaving aside the thorny issues of human rights, political prisoners and the official view of the Tiananmen Square "incident," there is the $44 billion trade deficit, arms sales to Iran and the status of Taiwan to pick over. Indeed, barely any issue the two leaders can touch on will be problem-free. The President had better be serving some of that famous White House coffee.