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This transcript has been typed at speed, and therefore may contain mistakes. Newsnight accepts no responsibility for these. However, we will be happy to correct serious errors.

'Say sorry!' 'Shan't!' 4/4/01

HENRY KISSINGER:
(FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE)
This matter is soluble, and will be settled within a few days. I would not apologise for the spy plane. I would express regret for the loss of life, which I understand Secretary Powell has already done. I believe that that, plus a proposal for a fact finding mission, of which plane turned into what plane, but does not argue the issue of the intelligence operation. It will, in my view, lead to a settlement.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
How do you rate the Bush administration's handling of this crisis?

KISSINGER:
We have to separate what is being said by the media and in our countries, from what the administration is saying. The administration has been restrained, and has made every effort to keep this, what is basically an accident of two planes colliding, from blowing up into an incident, which is something worse. My feeling is that it will be resolved. I cannot imagine that the Chinese President and his chief foreign policy adviser would have left China for twelve days, if they thought that this was going to turn into a major crisis, so the only danger is excessive machoism on one side or the other.

PAXMAN:
It comes in the context of what some people are calling the start of, if not a new Cold War, a frostiness between the US and China. In that sense, it's all the more dangerous. Is that how you read it?

KISSINGER:
There are no doubts that there are elements in each country that have ideological or national biases against the policies of the others. I do not think that is the dominant trend in either country. The art of this, is to handle the crisis in such a way, that it doesn't feed attitudes that welcome confrontation. This is not an issue on which there needs to be confrontation between China and the US. China should release those 24 prisoners.

PAXMAN:
In the broader context of Chinese/American relations, do you think it would be wise for the Bush administration to go ahead with the sale of the destroyers to Taiwan?

KISSINGER:
I think the administration should give weapons that make it clear that we stand by what every President since the opening of China has reiterated, our desire for a people solution. I personally would not sell the weapons at this moment.

PAXMAN:
Because?

KISSINGER:
Because they are really tying the defence of Taiwan into the defence of the American military system. Therefore, they indirectly restore the military relationship, the ending of which was a precondition for the normal relations, and which has been reaffirmed by every American President, including the Republican Presidents, Reagan and the first President Bush, before that. I would favour a significant arms package, but I would not include that particular weapon system. But then, my mind could be changed if I knew more about the technology.

PAXMAN:
Henry Kissinger, thank you.

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