- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

The United States and China agreed yesterday to share intelligence against terrorism, and the State Department announced that a bilateral expert group will meet on Tuesday in Washington.
During a 21/2-hour meeting with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan offered "cooperation in the anti-terrorism field." Cooperation in any military operations against those responsible for last week's attacks was not discussed, according to Mr. Powell.
He said he had not asked Mr. Tang how China would react to U.S. military action. But he cited areas in which Beijing could help the U.S. campaign against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban for harboring suspect Osama bin Laden.
China "has influence in that region. It has knowledge and information. It has intelligence that might be of help to us, and our counterterrorism experts will be getting together next week to explore every way in which the two sides can cooperate," he told reporters.
Another senior State Department official later said the discussion next week "will be devoted primarily to the al Qaeda organization," referring to bin Laden's extensive terrorist network, "but also more generally on the phenomenon."
"The Chinese have proximity. They have contacts. They have understanding of the region. They have perhaps some information on how these people travel and where they go. Who knows? They may have some insights into finance," the official said.
Asked whether Mr. Tang had mentioned military action in their conversation yesterday, Mr. Powell said: "I made the point to the foreign minister that we would be looking at a complete campaign that would involve going after finances, information, intelligence and law enforcement. It might have a military component.
"But we did not get into any details of the military component, nor did I ask the Chinese government what their reaction might be, nor did they suggest to me any participation. It just didn't come up."
In brief comments after the meeting, Mr. Tang told reporters at the State Department that China's "attitude on the question of terrorism has always been clear-cut and consistent."
"We firmly oppose and strongly condemn all forms of terrorism in all their evil acts," he said through an interpreter.
The senior State Department official said Mr. Tang told Mr. Powell that China had its own "terrorism" problem in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where some Uighur Muslims oppose Chinese rule.
But Mr. Powell said Mr. Tang had not sought U.S. concessions in return for cooperation in Washington's anti-terrorism campaign.
"Both sides recognize that this is a threat to both countries. They have their terrorism problems, and there are terrorism problems here in the United States, so there was absolutely no discussion of a quid pro quo," he said.
The two top diplomats also made preparations for a summit meeting in Shanghai next month between President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
In addition, they scheduled the first U.S.-China talks on human rights in more than two years for Oct. 1-3, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The dialogue was suspended after the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, was accidentally bombed during the 1999 Kosovo war. Mr. Powell and Mr. Tang agreed in principle to resume the talks when Mr. Powell visited China in July.
The Chinese foreign minister yesterday also paid a courtesy call to President Bush.
Mr. Powell added that his guest told him about his Thursday evening visit with the daughter and son-in-law of a Chinese couple who were aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
"It just shows how this is an international crisis, and it all has to do with the loss of innocent humanity. So we agreed to cooperate in this campaign against terrorism," Mr. Powell said.

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