Sino-US Air Crash Talks Set for Today

China and the United States will hold talks in Beijing today in hopes of settling a range of issues surrounding the April 1 collision between an American reconnaissance plane and a Chinese fighter jet.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said yesterday the negotiations will include such topics as the cause of the collision, a halt to US reconnaissance activities near China's coast and the prevention of similar incidents.

Zhang urged the United States "to take a constructive attitude in the negotiations to help properly settle the issues," reported Xinhua news agency.

Lu Shumin, head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Affairs for the Americas and Oceania, will lead the Chinese team, which includes other officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

Military officials will dominate the US team, the American Embassy said yesterday.

Its eight-member delegation will be led by Peter F. Verga, a deputy undersecretary in the Defense Department.

Others are military officers or Defense Department officials, including an expert on the EP-3 surveillance plane, the type involved in the collision.

As the government officials prepared for their meeting, many Chinese were visiting a Website that honors Wang Wei, the fighter pilot lost in the collision and presumed dead.

They were leaving words of condolence, lighting an online "candle" and making virtual offerings of flowers, wine and incense.

"Salute to the hero in our hearts," said one message.

"The Chinese people will remember you always," said another, signed "War Spirit."

People in Wang's home-town of Huzhou in Zhejiang Province staged a rally over the weekend.

Those attending pledged to learn from Wang's "patriotic spirit" and to turn "tragedy into strength."

( 04/18/2001)


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