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E-mail From Washington

From: John King/CNN White House Correspondent
In: Washington
Posted 8-14-97

Subject: Framework Set For Clinton Summit With Chinese President

A senior administration official tells CNN that this week's China visit by Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger set the framework for an October summit in Washington with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The official, who briefed a handful of reporters on condition of anonymity, said there were no breakthroughs in the talks and that it was increasingly clear there would be no swift progress in getting China to make the economic reforms the United States says are necessary for China to join the World Trade Organization.

The official says Chinese leaders, including Jiang and Premier Li Peng, again denied any government plot to interfere in U.S. political campaigns.

And the official says Chinese leaders are convinced that while North Korea faces severe food shortages and monumental long-term problems with its agricultural economy, the North Korean regime is not in danger of collapse.

"The Chinese leadership believes it has a greater sense of the threshold of pain than we do," the senior official says. "They sense a greater sense of the ability of North Korea to survive ... They by no means see a country on the verge of collapse."

The Clinton-Jiang summit is tentatively set for late October in Washington although the dates have not been locked in.

The official said Berger and senior Chinese leaders discussed a range of issues and developed a summit framework along these lines:

  • Nonproliferation of weapons. The official said there continue to be problems with Chinese weapons sales to countries the United States considers unfriendly.

  • Economics/open markets. The official said the United States will be watching the results of the Communist Party conference this month to see if Beijing emerges with a more aggressive plan to privatize its state-run industries, a major U.S. demand before considering China for WTO membership.

  • Human rights and rule of law.

  • Energy and environment, areas first raised by the vice president during his China trip in March.

  • Defense cooperation.

  • Law enforcement cooperation. The official thanked the Chinese for recently turning over to U.S. officials a Burmese man wanted on major drug smuggling charges.

While acknowledging no major breakthroughs, the official described the talks as "very constructive. Instead of long lectures and a lot of polemics there were very constructive discussions of the specific issues."

The official said the United States was not expecting any dramatic agreements at the summit but hoped just having regular summit meetings would allow for more normal relations.

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