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China gives U.S. address reminder

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BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China has given the United States the address of its embassy in Baghdad in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the deadly 1999 bombing of its mission in Belgrade.

China passed on the details of its Iraq mission, at around the time U.S.-led coalition aircraft started dropping bombs in and around Baghdad, to prevent any repeat of the 1999 bombing Washington said happened because of outdated maps, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Beijing and the Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

On May 7, 1999, an American B-2 stealth bomber dropped satellite-guided bombs on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during NATO's Kosovo air campaign, killing three Chinese journalists and wounding more than 20 people.

U.S. officials said the bombing was a result of old intelligence and NATO apologized. But the bombing dented Sino-U.S. relations as China's state media and most Chinese were, and remain, convinced it was a deliberate attack.

After the attack, thousands of angry Chinese staged violent protests near U.S. and other diplomatic missions in China.

China's Foreign Ministry said last week its embassy in Baghdad had been evacuated, a move diplomats said was designed to eliminate the risk of another mishap that could send Sino-U.S. relations into a nosedive.

"They changed tack completely from what they had done in Belgrade," one Western diplomat said.

"It might still be a story if their mission was hit with nobody in there, but they have taken away the big nightmare for them of the Chinese embassy and its employees being buried under the rubble again," he said.

In Beijing, roads were closed and extra armed guards stationed near key embassies, including those of the United States, Britain, Israel and Spain, shortly before the U.S.-led attack on Iraq began.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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