Tags: U.S. | China | Close | Letter | Understanding

U.S., China Close to Letter of Understanding

Friday, 06 April 2001 12:00 AM

At a news conference Friday on Capitol Hill, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters: "We're moving towards a letter that will contain exchanges of views, first at the level of the ambassador and the foreign minister, but that letter is being reviewed both by our president and the president of China. So it will reflect a common understanding."

The letter could go a long way toward securing the release of the 24 crew members of the EP-3 surveillance plane forced to land six days ago on the island of Hainan.

Warner told reporters an apology to the Chinese for the collision would not be incorporated into the letter, although State Department officials have said an earlier letter from Powell to Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen did include an expression of regret.

Warner said that Chinese and U.S. diplomats will establish a meeting framework, consistent with the letter, for an exchange of explanations of the event between experts.

"There will be established some type of meeting framework, contemporaneous with the letter, and that framework will enable the experts, those most knowledgeable about aircraft and other matters, to sit down and assess the facts. And at that time, hopefully, we can indeed – the United States, China and the world – get a better understanding of this accident, which involved, regrettably, a loss of life," Warner said.

Warner said this meeting would be "military to military" and "build on some progress" of prior meetings with China on a future understanding of surveillance issues "to avoid the type of accident we've just experienced."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher would not comment on the senator's remarks, but did not deny whether such a meeting was in the offing.

"I don't think it's in our interest at this stage in the discussions to start specifying one way of having these discussions or another."

But Boucher did leave open the possibility that the military maritime consultative agreement, a pact that establishes a panel between the United States and China to discuss such matters, could address this issue in their meeting later this month in San Francisco.

"This commission exists, it has regular meetings; I suppose it could have other meetings. I suppose other things could be set up," Boucher said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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At a news conference Friday on Capitol Hill, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters: We're moving towards a letter that will contain exchanges of views, first at the level of the ambassador and the foreign...
U.S.,,China,Close,Letter,Understanding
392
2001-00-06
Friday, 06 April 2001 12:00 AM
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