Cheney said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday talk
show that President George W. Bush "had made it clear we regret the
loss of the Chinese pilot as a result of this accident. The notion
that we would apologize for being in international air space, for
example, is not something we can accept."
Powell said on the "Fox News Sunday" talk show that the relationship
between the United States and China is being damaged the longer this
dispute goes unresolved. "We've got to bring this matter to a close as
soon as possible ... to get our youngsters back and see if we can
minimize the damage to our relationship."
And Powell said that the United States has expressed regrets and
sorrow over the life that has been lost as a result of the accident.
But, he added, "the question of apology is something quite different,
because then we are being asked to accept responsibility. And that we
have not done, can't do, and therefore won't apologize for that."
According to official reports from the U.S. Pacific Command, a U.S.
Navy EP-3E patrol aircraft was conducting a reconnaissance mission
approximately 70 miles south of Hainan island over international
waters in the South China Sea when a midair collision occurred between
the Navy aircraft with a crew of 24 on board and a Chinese air force
F-8 fighter jet.
The U.S. pilot and crew managed to control the
four-engine turboprop aircraft, but because of extensive damage were
forced to make an emergency landing at the Lingshui air base on Hainan
Island where they have been detained by Chinese military authorities
in a military guest house.
U.S. diplomats in China have visited the
crew members three times since the plane landed April 1, local time in
China, according to official government reports. The Chinese pilot of
the F-8 fighter jet is missing at sea and is presumed dead, according
to published news reports.
"The longer this goes on without resolution, clearly the more
difficult it becomes to manage the relationship and avoid risk to the
long-term relationship with China, but we are making progress," Cheney
said on ABC's "This Week" television program.
Cheney said "intense" diplomatic efforts are continuing for the
release of the crew and the Navy EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft. "We
are engaged, I would say, in intense diplomatic activity on the issue
with respect to the EP-3 in China, but there is nothing to announce at
this point," he told ABC News.
Cheney further said that it is essential that "quiet diplomacy" be
used to resolve the issue rather than inflaming by using "hot
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on CNN's "Late
Edition" that the United States has done nothing wrong in this
accident and "an apology is not forthcoming." Chinese officials have
asked for a full apology from the United States for the accident. "It
is time now to resolve the problem," she said.
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