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Diplomatic Efforts Continue in U.S.-China Standoff

Aired April 7, 2001 - 09:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN NELSON, CNN ANCHOR: We turn our attention now back to the U.S.-China standoff. Our focus is on Hainan Island, which China is developing into a world-class resort. But right now, it is the focal point of a world-class diplomatic confrontation between Beijing and Washington over that accident involving a U.S. spy plane and two Chinese fighters.

And for the latest on the U.S. plane and its crew, which are on Hainan Island, here is CNN's Lisa Rose Weaver, who is in the city of Haikou. Hi, Lisa Rose.

LISA ROSE WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brian, good morning.

Yes, it's been a very long day for U.S. diplomats here in Hainan. They've been pressing to get that third meeting with the 24 U.S. crew members who have now been in Chinese custody for six days. Earlier today, the head of the delegation, the U.S. defense attache, said he was confident the meeting would happen. But now more than 12 hours later, it has not.

Now, when exactly these people are going to be released is the main question, and from where we sit now, it just is not clear. Brian?

NELSON: All right, thank you very much, Lisa Rose Weaver reporting to us from Hainan -- I'm sorry, in Haikou, which is on Hainan Island -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Bush administration is working to bring the 24 crew members of the spy plane home, and this weekend work continues on a letter by both the U.S. and China that could bring an end to this standoff, but no apology by the U.S. is expected.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor joins us now live from Washington with more. Good morning, David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra.

State Department officials expect further meetings between U.S. and Chinese diplomats today as the two sides try to resolve this impasse. The last meeting was about nine and a half hours ago in Beijing between the U.S. ambassador and an assistant foreign minister of the Chinese government. There's likely going to be another meeting in Beijing today, Saturday.

The U.S. official I just spoke to said that it is possible that there could even be a resolution of this matter as early as today, although he said that the timetable depends very much on the Chinese.

Now, the formula that is being talked about is, as you mentioned, a joint letter which would be signed by the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and by some equivalent Chinese official, which would express regret about the incident and would set out an agreed set of procedures for the future. It would also lead to the release of the crew that are being held by the Chinese.

Then there would be a reference to some other body, possibly a maritime commission that already exists, a U.S.-Chinese maritime commission, and this group would be asked to assess blame in this particular accident and try to set up procedures so that if there are similar accidents in the future, they don't lead to this kind of crisis, something that Leon Fuerth, who was Vice President Gore's national security adviser, said is essential.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON FUERTH, FORMER GORE ADVISER: Assuming we get past this, the issue is, what kind of relationship are we going to try and build with the Chinese that has a positive dimension? Because you can be sure that there are going to be other collisions in the future. Will we have, so to speak, money in the bank in our relationship with China when those things happen?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ENSOR: So the main goal here is to get the release of the crew members. There's some hope that it might happen soon. There's realism that the plane is unlikely to be gotten back from the Chinese soon. They are still trying to get it, though -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, David Ensor, thanks so much.

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