WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for lunch Thursday at the White House, discussing America's leadership in the world and pledging to stay in touch after a bitter presidential contest.
In their first meeting since the election, Obama and the Republican nominee shook hands in the Oval Office and had an hourlong lunch of white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad in the private White House dining room.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom called it a "very friendly lunch."
The White House said Romney congratulated the president on his successful campaign and wished him well in the coming four years.
White House officials said the two men pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.
Before the lunch, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had no specific agenda for the meeting, but he said the president wanted to discuss Romney's ideas for making government more efficient. Obama has proposed merging some functions of government related to business and has asked Congress for authority to undertake some executive branch reorganization.
For Romney, it was a day of closure after a hard-fought campaign. He met with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his running mate, earlier in the day.
"I remain grateful to Gov. Romney for the honor of joining his ticket this fall, and I cherish our friendship," Ryan said in a statement after their meeting.
Obama and Romney's sit-down was their most extensive private meeting to date. The two men had only a handful of brief exchanges before the election.
The meeting was not without incident. The Secret Service said a man interfered with Romney's motorcade as his vehicle arrived at a secure checkpoint near the White House and was arrested after becoming combative during an interview with a police officer.