WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and former Republican rival Mitt Romney met for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the Nov. 6 election, fulfilling a promise Obama made in his victory speech. Economic issues were likely on the menu.

Romney left after just over an hour.

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.

"The president noted that Gov. Romney did a terrific job running the Olympics and that that skills set lends itself to ideas that could make the federal government work better, which is a passion of the president's," Carney said.

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.

Obama aides said they reached out to Romney's team shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday last week to start working on a date for the meeting. No press coverage was expected of the private lunch.

For Romney, it was a day of closure after a hard-fought campaign.

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 centres 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.