The letter that led to release of U.S. crew
The following is the text of the letter written by U.S. Ambassador to China Joseph Prueher to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, expressing that the United States is sorry for the loss of the Chinese pilot and that a U.S. Navy plane landed in China without permission.
Dear Mr. Minister:
On behalf of the United States government, I now outline steps to resolve this issue.
Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft. Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss.
Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures. We are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely. We appreciate China's efforts to see to the well-being of our crew.
In view of the tragic incident and based on my discussions with your representative, we have agreed to the following actions:
Both sides agree to hold a meeting to discuss the incident. My government understands and expects that our aircrew will be permitted to depart China as soon as possible.
The meeting would start April 18, 2001.
The meeting agenda would include discussion of the causes of the incident, possible recommendations whereby such collisions could be avoided in the future, development of a plan for prompt return of the EP-3 aircraft, and other related issues. We acknowledge your government's intention to raise U.S. reconnaissance missions near China in the meeting.
Joseph W. Prueher
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