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Fiscal Cliff Talks Get Started; Two Sides Sound Optimistic

Getting started: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at the start of today's meeting. (Reuters /Landov)

President Obama and congressional leaders from both major parties met at the White House this morning for the first of what will likely be many negotiations aimed at averting a plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff.

We watched for news from the key players — who include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio — and updated with highlights.

Just before the meeting, this message was posted on Boehner's Twitter page:

"Look forward to mtg w/@WhiteHouse re: plan to avert #fiscalcliff via pro-growth tax reform & spending cuts; not tax rate hikes"

The administration, on the other hand, is tweeting a "closer look at how the President's plan raises $1.6T in revenue pic.twitter.com/m7Cogl1d."

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Leaders Sound United Afterward:

As often happens after the first set of talks on tough issues, the lawmakers have emerged from the meeting to say the discussions were constructive, that they understand a solution needs to be reached and that they're confident they can do it.

-- Boehner: "I outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending. I believe that the framework that I outlined our meeting today is consistent with the president's call for a fair and balanced approach. To show our seriousness we put revenue on the table as long as it's accompanied by significant espending cuts. ... I believe we can do this."

-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: "I feel very good about what we talked about." The "cornerstones" of a deal are there. Reid said lawmakers and their staffs will work through the Thanksgiving recess and then meet with the president again after that holiday.

-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: "A very constructive meeting. ... Every person in America knows that we must reach agreement." And she said the outlines of a deal need to be rolled out well before Christmas so that consumers have confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.

-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: "We're prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem," which he said is the rising cost of entitlement programs.

Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. "We're Going To Get To Work," Obama says:

Saying that "our challenge is to make sure that we are able to cooperate together, work together, find some common ground, make some tough compromise [and] build some consensus," President Obama just welcomed Boehner and other leaders to the White House.

"We're going to get to work," he added, before also wishing Boehner a day-early happy birthday.

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