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China, U.S. talks adjourn

U.S. delegation leader Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Pete Verga enters the US Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday morning
U.S. delegation leader Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Pete Verga enters the US Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday morning  

In this story:

Secret agenda

Expecting tough questions

Human rights record

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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Talks between a U.S. delegation and Chinese officials in Beijing concerning a military plane collision have adjourned after three hours.

Wednesday's meeting with Chinese officials failed to resolve the dispute over a grounded U.S. intelligence plane and future meetings are on hold, White House sources said.

Chinese news outlets reported another meeting was scheduled for Thursday, but U.S. sources say no meeting will be held until China is willing to discuss the return of the surveillance plane that made an emergency landing April 1 on China's Hainan Island.

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CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports on how and when U.S. reconnaissance flights are expected to resume near China

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New video released by the Pentagon shows a Chinese pilot flying so close to a U.S. plane his hand gestures are visible

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Analysts say the talks can be described as 'tough.' CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports

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Rebecca MacKinnon on the agenda, the mood, and the officials involved in the talks

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    The collision caused the death of a Chinese pilot and severely damaged an American EP-3 spy plane.

    A statement reportedly made by the head of the Chinese delegation says the United States is 'entirely' responsible for the incident.

    The official Xinhua news agency released a statement reportedly made during the talks by the head of the Chinese delegation, Lu Shumin, appropriating blame on the U.S. for the collision.

    "The Chinese side has sufficient evidence that the responsibility for the collision lies entirely with the U.S. side," Xinhua quoted Lu as saying.

    "Statements and so called evidence presented by the U.S. over the past few days are completely groundless."

    At the end of the meeting, the U.S. delegation left without making a statement and are refusing to characterize the talks.

    Secret agenda

    While it is unclear what was discussed, going into the meeting there appeared to be little common ground.

    The U.S. is demanding that its EP-3 spy plane, still sitting on an airfield on Hainan Island, is returned as soon as possible, while China insists that the U.S. halts all surveillance flights near Chinese air space.

    The U.S. has said publicly it has no intention of doing so.

    It is difficult to say how long this round of meetings will go on and neither side is yet to make public their expectations on when the talks would end.

    However, Western diplomats told CNN that a sudden turnaround or a change in either side's position is unlikely.

    They say there are major differences and say the Chinese have fairly serious reasons why they feel they cannot compromise politically.

    Talks began at 3 p.m. Beijing time Wednesday (3 a.m. ET) at the Foreign Ministry.

    The U.S. negotiating team includes a deputy undersecretary of defense, the director of the State Department's Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, a military attaché and adviser from the U.S. Embassy, and Navy officials including a rear admiral.

    Expecting tough questions

    White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said prior to the meeting that the Chinese could expect "tough questions" from the U.S. delegation, and the U.S. side would detail its view that the Chinese are to blame for the accident.

    "We'll see what they are prepared to address and draw our own conclusions about how they intend to proceed with this relationship," Boucher said.

    The Chinese appeared to put the burden of resolving the remaining differences on the United States.

    "China is trying to solve this incident in a calm manner," Zhang said.

    "The development of Sino-U.S. relations needs efforts from both sides, so the United States should take responsible, effective measures to avoid such things happening again and it should not do anything that may harm (the) Sino-U.S. relationship."

    Some members of Congress are urging sanctions against China over the incident, suggesting that the United States move to block Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympic Games or oppose further free trade agreements.

    But some warn that it is Washington that stands to lose from isolating a rapidly growing China.

    Others are urging President Bush to approve the sale of destroyers equipped with the Aegis advanced air defense radar system to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

    Human rights record

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials have been pressing for resolutions critical of China's human rights record at a United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Both the U.S. and China employed tough language in the hours leading up to the meeting.

    In Washington, the Pentagon released videotape of Chinese fighter pilots flying close to U.S. surveillance flights to buttress its claim that the Chinese pilots were flying aggressively.

    "We already noticed that some senior U.S. government officials have made irresponsible remarks," Zhang Qiyue, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a briefing.

    "They want to ignore the facts, confusing right and wrong and want to shift responsibility onto others, and we express our strong dissatisfaction with this."

    The U.S. crew was detained by China for 11 days after the collision, and U.S. officials believe the $80 million-plus Navy EP-3E Aries II spy plane has been exhaustively searched by Chinese authorities.

    "We want our airplane back, and we're going to make that point, and we would expect to get a response," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.

    Meanwhile, top U.S. military officials have recommended that spy flights should not resume immediately off China's southern coast, scene of the mid-air collision that has severely strained bilateral relations, defense officials said on Tuesday.

    The officials, who asked not to be identified, said the Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff, who head the military services, had recommended a phased approach under which spy flights would resume first off China's eastern coast and only later off the sensitive southern coast.

    The recommendation was made to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who had made no final submission to Bush yet, the officials said.

    CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon contributed to this report.



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    RELATED SITES:
    U.S. Navy factfile: The EP-3
    U.S. Dept of Defense
    White House
    Government Information Office, Republic of China
    Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America

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