"We made our case; they made their case. And it did not end as a
productive meeting," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
Fleischer, traveling with the president to Connecticut, where he made a
speech to educators, said negotiators made no progress in securing the
return of a disabled American EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which made an emergency
landing nearly two weeks ago after a Chinese fighter struck it. The hostage crew of 24 was released last
Fleischer said U.S. Ambassabor Joseph Prueher "will have another meeting
with the Chinese to discuss the agenda, to make
certain it is productive," Fleischer said, an apparent reference to reports
that in Wednesday's meetings the Chinese would not discuss the
return of the $80 million plane.
"We want our airplane back ... we're going to make that point. And we
would expect a response," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said
Asked whether the United States would call off the next meeting if the
agenda were unsatisfactory, Fleischer said: "Let's take it one step at a
time. But I don't rule that out." He agreed with a reporter's summary that
the meeting was unproductive because the Chinese did not offer to return the
Fleischer declined to say whether U.S. surveillance flights have resumed
in the area.
Fleischer said Bush had not yet received "any
recommendations at all" from his staff on whether the U.S. would sell Taiwan
the Aegis destroyers it wants or would instead offer Kidd-class destroyers
that employ less sophisticated anti-missile technology. The issue is crucial
because China wants to seize Taiwan just as it has invaded Tibet. It has been building an
arsenal of missiles in an attempt to prevent it from declaring independence.
What Bush decides is expected to have a major effect on U.S.-China
relations over the long term.
"The staff is continuing to talk about their recommendations," Fleischer
said. "The president has received no recommendations at this time."
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