The United States and China agreed on a broad framework of cooperation on Tuesday as they strive to lead the global economy out of recession and forge a closer alliance on tough environmental and political issues.

At the conclusion of the first round of what will be an annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the countries agreed to maintain stimulus spending until economic recovery is secured, signed a memorandum on climate change, energy and the environment, and pledged their support for free trade.

We have laid the foundation for a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship for the 21st century, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a press conference following two days of high-level talks.

The United States and China agreed to take steps to reduce trade imbalances, with Washington promising to boost private savings while Beijing works to promote more domestic demand.

But there was little in the way of specifics about how the countries intended to accomplish those goals, and the United States at least publicly steered clear of one of the thorniest issues -- urging China to allow its currency to rise faster.

However, Beijing did take a sharper tone, warning against letting the dollar slide too far.

As a major reserve currency-issuing country in the world, the United States should properly balance and properly handle the impact of the dollar supply on the domestic economy and the world economy as a whole, Vice Premier Wang Qishan said earlier on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Paul Eckert; Writing by Emily Kaiser and Glenn Somerville; Editing by James Dalgleish)