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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK


China postpones US talks

Protesters are targeting the British and US embassies

China has postponed high level military contacts and other talks with the United States in response to the Nato bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

Kosovo: Special Report
Consultations with the US on human rights, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, arms control, and international security will be halted until further notice, said its foreign ministry spokesman.

The move comes despite an apology from President Clinton, who sent a message to his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, expressing regret over the bombing.

Russia's envoy on Kosovo, Viktor Chernomyrdin, has left for Beijing to hold talks with Chinese leaders.

Nato and Russian officials had appeared to be moving closer to a deal involving a peace-keeping force with a Nato element rather than with Nato at its core.

But the embassy bombing has seriously complicated Mr Chernomyrdin's efforts.

Quieter night

Mike Williams in Belgrade: Nato returns to many of the same targets
Serbian media reported just two Nato attacks on Sunday night, both on the southern city of Nis.

One blast was heard at the airport, another in the centre of the city and there were unconfirmed reportsof a hit on the post office, a hub for telephone links in the region.

(Click here to see a map of last night's Nato strikes)

With low rain clouds across Yugoslavia, for the first time since bombings began, the people of the capital did not hear the sound of air raid sirens and the anti-aircraft guns were silent.

[ image: The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised]
The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised
Protests have continued for a third day outside the US Embassy in Beijing, where Monday's newspapers carried the first pictures of the bombing victims.

Embassy official Bill Palmer told the BBC that 300 to 400 had gathered outside the building.

Many protesters have called for the downgrading of relations with the US or for them to be broken off completely.

The BBC's Paul Anstiss: China accused Nato of trying to cover up its mistake
On Sunday, angry crowds besieged the US Embassy, demanding revenge for the deaths of three Chinese citizens at the Belgrade embassy.

A White House spokesman said Mr Clinton had stressed in his message to Chinese leaders the importance of protecting staff at the US Embassy.

The Chinese authorities have vowed to protect foreign diplomats on its soil, but some officials, including Chinese Vice President, Hu Jintao, have publicly expressed support for the protests.

Duncan Hewitt in Beijing: The mood has turned increasingly ugly
The British Embassy in Beijing has also come under attack, with thousands of angry students pelting the buillding with stones and paint.

The UK Foreign Office said on Sunday it was advising Britons against non-essential travel to China.

'Held hostage'

US Ambassador in Belgrade James Sasser: "Unable to leave here now for almost 50 hours"
The US ambassador in Beijing, James Sasser, said embassy staff had been hostages in the building since the demonstrations started.

Riot police were unable to stop youths hurling bottles, stones and burning debris around the buildings.

The ambassador said all the windows had been broken in the embassy building but no-one had been seriously injured.

The protesters' anger has also turned on foreign news journalists trying to report the events.

A BBC crew in Beijing was beaten and pelted with stones, accused of insulting China.

The BBC's Jill McGivering: "The unleashed anger could be hard to contain"
BBC correspondent Jill McGivering, who was among those attacked, says the Chinese authorities have been condoning legal protests, but the angry violence now unleashed in Beijing and some other major cities could prove difficult to control.

The US has said an intelligence mistake, caused by faulty information, led to the bombing of the Chinese embassy.

Court case brought

Amidst the events after the embassy bombing, Yugoslavia begins legal action on Monday against 10 Nato countries at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Yugoslavia contends that the alliance has acted without UN Security Council authorisation, and that it has failed to protect civilians as stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

The US and the UK are expected to argue that the court has no jurisdiction to hear Yugoslavia's case.

Russia and the G7 industrial countries are due to meet on Monday to continue working on the outline peace plan agreed last week.

But Nato has come under attack from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who said the air campaign had failed because those killed and injured could be classified as human-rights victims.

She said civilian deaths and injuries were not acceptable.

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