The spending cut pact that stopped a U.S. government shutdown may not make Barack Obama and John Boehner friends, but their relationship improved in ways that could help them mold compromises in battles to come.

The U.S. president, a Democrat, and the speaker of the House, a Republican, have never had a close bond — and supporters from their respective parties probably prefer it that way.

Despite their differences, however, both men showed a common desire to avoid having the government close down, and their ability to forge a deal may bode well for future agreements on the 2012 budget, the debt ceiling and deficit.

After Republicans won control of the House in November congressional elections, Obama pledged to work harder to reach out to the opposition party.

Critics say he got off to a slow start building bridges in the fiscal 2011 budget debate but, late or not, came on strong Tuesday, calling Boehner and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the first of several White House meetings.

“[Obama and Boehner] have a lot of respect for each other. I think they appreciate that the good of (the) nation requires a productive working relationship,” said a person close to Boehner.

“They both believe the other operates in good faith. I think they are friendly, but not quite good friends at this point. Maybe some day.”