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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
US letter of regret: Full text
Ambassador Prueher
Ambassador Prueher sent the letter leading to the breakthrough
Below is the full text of the US letter delivered to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and how the letter was reported in China.

Text of US letter:

"Dear Mr Minister,
On behalf of the United States Government, I now outline steps to resolve this issue.


Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss

Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft.

Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss.

Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures.

We are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely.

We appreciate China's efforts to see to the well-being of our crew.

In view of the tragic incident and based on my discussions with your representative, we have agreed to the following actions:


Our aircrew will be permitted to depart China as soon as possible

Both sides agree to hold a meeting to discuss the incident.

My government understands and expects that our aircrew will be permitted to depart China as soon as possible.

The meeting would start April 18, 2001.

The meeting agenda would include discussion of the causes of the incident, possible recommendations whereby such collisions could be avoided in the future, development of a plan for prompt return of the EP-3 aircraft, and other related issues.

We acknowledge your government's intention to raise US reconnaissance missions near China in the meeting.

Sincerely,

Joseph W. Prueher


Excerpts from news report on Chinese TV

"Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan received a letter of regret presented this afternoon, on behalf of the US government, by US Ambassador Joseph Prueher, the representative plenipotentiary of the US government for handling the incident.


The US side must take full responsibility for the incident, provide convincing explanations to the Chinese people, stop its reconnaissance activities above the Chinese coast, and take measures to stop the recurrence of such incidents.

"Foreign Minister Tang pointed out that the US side must take full responsibility for the incident, provide convincing explanations to the Chinese people, stop its reconnaissance activities above the Chinese coast, and take measures to stop the recurrence of such incidents.

"The Chinese side understands the eager feelings of the American people and the families of the crew members in expecting them to return to their country to be with their close relatives as soon as possible.

"In view of the fact that the US government has already expressed its regret to the Chinese people and out of humanitarian considerations, the Chinese government has decided to allow the above-mentioned personnel to leave China's territory after performing necessary procedures."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing
"A final version of the document does appear to have been accepted by the Chinese"
The BBC's Philippa Thomas in Washington
"Feeling in Washington is that the release of the crew has happened just in time"
The BBC's Matt Frei in Hainan
"The most telling evidence of the new line has come from the Chinese media"
China analyst Jonathan Mirsky
"This is a great victory for sanity"
Tom Crandall, father of crew-member
"They got what they wanted, and we got what we wanted"

Key stories:

Analysis

Spy plane row

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