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Archive for Friday, October 25, 2002

Leaders to discuss military, N. Korea

October 25, 2002

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— High-level military talks between the United States and China, suspended after the crash-landing of an American spy plane last year in China, could be restarted as early as December, senior defense officials said Thursday.

A plan to resume the talks is among a handful of agreements expected today at the Texas summit between President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Strategic military discussions between the two countries last happened in November 2000 during the Clinton administration. The annual meeting was not scheduled in 2001, partly because of an incident in April of that year, when a U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet. A Chinese fighter pilot died, and Beijing's refusal to return the crew of the crippled American plane for 11 days led to a tense diplomatic standoff.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer declined Thursday to say whether there would be any agreements between Bush and Jiang at the summit.

"We'll see," he said. "One of the most important situations that will be discussed will be what to do about the situation in North Korea." China, he noted, "has no interest" in seeing nuclear weapons in North Korea.

Officials expect Jiang to agree today to work with the United States on the North Korea situation. Pyongyang this month admitted pursuing a secret program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons in violation of a 1994 pact.

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