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China Decides to Let U.S. Inspect Surveillance Plane

Aired April 29, 2001 - 07:26   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We just got word here at CNN center in Atlanta that Chinese officials have agreed to allow U.S. officials to board that U.S. surveillance plane on Hainan Island. Once again, this is confirmation from Chinese officials, not U.S. officials.

We're going to go to our Rebecca MacKinnon, live from Beijing with more on the details.

Rebecca, what can you tell us?

REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Hello, Kyra.

Well, we have just received a report from the Chinese government news agency which, essentially, repeats government statements, that the Chinese have decided to allow the United States to inspect its plane in Hainan Island at the Lingshui Airport, where the U.S. surveillance plane has been since it made its emergency landing.

Now, the Chinese government report also says that the U.S. side has agreed to consider making a payment to the Chinese side. It says the two sides will conduct another round of negotiations on the specific amount of that payment and the items to be covered. And the report also says that the two sides will continue discussions for the final settlement of the issue, concerning the U.S. reconnaissance plane.

Now, it's not clear at this point, Kyra, exactly what this payment is meant to be for, but -- and we -- at this point we also do not have any confirmation or comment from the U.S. embassy here in Beijing, so we're waiting to find out what the American version of this report might be -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Rebecca, any word if the U.S. officials will be able to take that plane back to the United States?

MACKINNON: At this point, no word whatsoever, only word that the U.S. officials will be able to inspect the plane. No comment at all from the Chinese side at this point about whether it will be returned or when -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Rebecca, when the U.S. officials do board that plane, what exactly is it they will be looking for?

MACKINNON: Well, that's going to be very interesting to see. I think one issue will be the damage. There's still a great deal of dispute between the U.S. and China over who caused the collision. The Chinese side pointing to certain marks on the plane, and the way in which the plane was damaged as proof that it was the U.S, plane that rammed into the Chinese plane. So one thing that the American officials will be looking at very closely is to see if they feel that those marks are really consistent with the Chinese version.

The other thing that the U.S. side is going to be very interested to find out is just, exactly what intelligence information the Chinese side may have gained from having the plane in their possession -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Rebecca MacKinnon, live from Beijing. Thanks for the update, and we'll continue to follow this story throughout the morning.

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