THE SALINA JOURNAL WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2001 IliB T DOWNED SPY PLANE Negotiations reach a stalemate, Busli sayS Chinese give crew more freedom to exercise, move around By RON FOURNIER The Associated Press WASHINGTON — President Bush for the first time called the showdown with China a "stalemate" Tuesday, lowering expectations for the release soon of 24 U.S. servicemen and women. Diplomats said they had offered a new for- oUbH mula to free the spy plane crew and were awaiting Beijing's reply "Diplomacy sometimes take a little longer than people would like," Bush said. "1 urge the Chinese to bring resolution to T CHINA-U.S. RELATIONS this issue. It's time for our people to come home." U.S. officials reported modest behind-the-scenes progress and said Beijing was mulling the administration's latest proposal to end the standoff Bush was willing, the officials said, to express regret for the U.S. plane landing on Chinese soil — if the gesture would free the crew. Amid the flurry of diplomatic activity, the president tried for a second straight day to prepare Americans for the possibility of a long standoff. He has been under pressure from critics, including conservative allies, clamoring for action. "This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way," the president said. The crew members have been held since their EP-3E II surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet and was forced to make an emergency No U.S. concensus for an apology Altliough some say U.S. should apologize and not mean it By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — To the mother of one Navy specialist held in China, a U.S. apology — even an insincere one — is worth making if it gets the 24 Americans home. To the father of another, nothing that happened merits an apology The Chinese are demanding the apology, but so far there is no apparent inclination in Washington to provide one for the midair collision that killed a Chinese pilot and destroyed his plane. Just over half of respondents in a poll out Tuesday, 54 percent, said Washington should not apologize. Four in 10 said an apology would be appropriate, according to the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll taken Friday through Sunday In a possible hint of the U.S. crew's thinking, detained crewman David Cecka of Cle Elum, Wash., wrote in a cheerful email "the crew intends to return with our country's honor intact," his father said Tuesday Edward Briar, an analyst with the Military Research and Study Group, said President Bush "is already beginning to look a little weak, a little ragged. An apology would be unseemly and embarrassing for the nation." For Amanda De Jesus of Long POOL SERVICE SPA SERVICE WATER CHEMISTRY Pool's Plus of Salina 823-POOL • 2501 Market Place AUTO. LIFE. IVIE 99 TALK TO A REAL, LIVE PERSON WHO'S IN THE SAME PHONE BOOK AS YOU. Derek Lanoue 116 E. Iron 785-820-2860 /instate. Yuii'ru II) ynuti tiimdt). Alliuto Ufa Injurance Company. Home Office; Norllibrook. llHiioii. Convenient Call In & Pick Up Service. lillCKEN 649 S. Broadway / Salina / 785-827-5076 O E L E, B A T7 E 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. ussell's estaurant 1-135 and Crawford, Salina • 825:5^^^^^^ landing April 1. Beijing has sought an apology and U.S. acceptance of blame, but Bush has said neither is warranted. "The U.S. side should apologize," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said. However, along with the defiant words, China extended the U.S. air crew extra privileges, including freedom to exercise in the air-conditioned building where they are being detained. The Bush team, frustrated by the slow pace of talks, said the fate of the negotiations was in Beijing's hands. Both sides were focused on drafts of a proposed U.S. letter that — if approved by Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin — would be presented to China by the U.S. ambassador in a deal to release the crew. The latest version of the letter expresses tlae Bush administration's regret for the loss, and presumed death, of the fighter Beach, Calif., it's just a matter of words that would bring her son Josef Edmunds home. "We didn't do anything wrong, from what I've heard," she said. "I think I would just say what they want us to say" Edmunds is a Navy decoding specialist from Davis, Calif Mike Cecka said his son spoke of his country's honor, and confirmed the crew is not being mistreated, in an e-mail he saw Monday night. "I personally don't feel we have anything to apologize about," the father said. David Cecka is an aviation electronics technician. There is a precedent for a phony apology, although in different circumstances. When North Koreans held, humiliated and beat 82 crewmen of the U.S. spy ship Pueblo for 11 months in 1968, the men were freed when the chief U.S. negotiator issued a formal apology he said later he did not mean. The odd solution allowed for face-saving on both sides — North Koreans had an admission of U.S. guilt for their purposes and Americans disavowed what they had said for their own domestic consumption. pilot as well as regret for the spy plane landing on Chinese soil without permission, according to two senior government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity The document says the plane was crippled by the crash, was flying under a "Mayday" signal and had to make an emergency landing. Crew members have talked about the cause of the crash. Pentagon officials indicated, quoting a State Department cable reporting the pilot said the big four-engine plane was on autopilot. That could support the administration's contention the spy plane was flying straight and steady; the Chinese have said it swerved into their jet. A State Department official, also asking he not be identified, said U.S. diplomats have warned China they've come as far in negotiations as Bush will allow — and it's up to Beijing to accept the deal and end the dispute. "This could get resolved very quickly It could get resolved in a matter of time," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Bush said China needs to return the crew as quickly as possible. "The longer this goes, the more likely it is that it could jeopardize relations" between the U.S. and China, the president told reporters during an Oval Office visit with King Abdullah II of Jordan. Bush and his advisers have signaled that a lengthy captivity could affect a host of issues between the two nations, including trade, military exchanges, U.S. military support of China rival Taiwan, Bush's scheduled trip to Beijing this fall and U.S. sup port of China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics. A drawn-out dispute could cause political problems for Bush, too. Though a new poll shows that 60 percent of the public approves of the way he is handling the situation. Bush is facing increasing pressure from both ends of the political spectrum. Some conservative Republicans, the core of his election victory are accusing him of coddling China throughout the standoff "I think that for 10 days ... we have acted powerless, unduly passive and in the process I think we are emboldening the worst elements of the bureaucracy in Beijing while demoralizing our allies in Asia," said Gary Bauer, who ran unsuccessfully against Bush in the GOP primaries. 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