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Lunch Meet: Obama, Romney chat over chili

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Nov. 29, 2012: President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk in the Oval Office following their lunch. (The White House)

The White House says President Obama's lunch with Republican Mitt Romney focused on America's leadership and the two presidential rivals pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together come up in the future.

In their first meeting since the election, Obama and the GOP nominee met for lunch in the White House's private dining room, fulfilling a promise Obama made in his victory speech the night of Nov. 6.

The White House said Romney congratulated the president for his successful campaign and wished him well in the coming four years. The conversation during the hourlong meeting focused on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position.

The lunch menu included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.

Romney left the White House after just over an hour. Obama and Romney's meeting was thought to be their most extensive private talk to date. They had only a handful of brief exchanges before the 2012 election, and their campaign interactions were largely confined to the three presidential debates.

Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, his former running mate, met earlier in the day to talk about economic challenges facing Washington, a Ryan aide said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to discuss the private discussions.

Much of the economic debate centers on expiring tax cuts first enacted in the George W. Bush administration. Obama and Romney differed sharply during the campaign over what to do with the cuts, with the Republican pushing for them to be extended for all income earners and the president running on a pledge to let the cuts expire for families making more than $250,000 a year.

The White House sees Obama's victory as a signal that Americans support his tax proposals.

Romney has virtually disappeared from politics following his election loss. He's spent the past three weeks largely in seclusion at his family's California home. He has made no public appearances, drawing media attention only after being photographed at Disneyland in addition to stops at the movies and the gym with his wife, Ann.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.