April 7, 2001

Chinese president welcomed in Argentina

                  BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrived
                  Saturday in Argentina, the second stop of a 12-day tour of Latin America that
                  has been overshadowed by the diplomatic standoff involving a U.S. spy

                  Jiang made no public comments as he left Ezeiza international airport for a
                  Buenos Aires hotel.

                  The Chinese president flew here after two days in Chile, where he insisted anew
                  on a U.S. apology for the collision of the U.S. reconnaissance plan with a
                  Chinese fighter jet. The Chinese pilot is missing and presumed dead.

                  President Fernando De la Rua greeted Jiang, who smiled and waved to about a
                  dozen well-wishers who waved Chinese and Argentine flags. The two presidents
                  walked side by side down a red carpet, saluted by a military honor guard.

                  Jiang, at the outset of a long visit that will take him to five South American
                  countries and Cuba, was expected to rest this weekend before his official
                  activities resume on Monday.

                  On Sunday he planned to spend the day at an Argentine ranch outside Buenos
                  Aires, a city of 13 million. Jiang is to remain in Argentina until he flies Tuesday
                  to Montevideo, Uruguay, and Wednesday to Brazil. Cuba and Venezuela are to
                  follow. In Argentina, he was to address Congress, visit the Supreme Court and
                  discuss trade ties, repaying De la Rua's visit last year to China.

                  During his first visit to Latin America, Jiang spoke only once publicly about the
                  diplomatic row sparked by the collision over the South China Sea. He had no
                  comment Friday or Saturday, but faced a scheduled news conference Monday.

                  Jiang's trip has been widely viewed as an attempt by Beijing to build support
                  ahead of a vote at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights on the communist
                  country's human rights record.

                  With the exception of Chile, the other South American countries are members of
                  the commission based in Geneva. The body is expected to take up the issue in a
                  vote tentatively scheduled for April 18.

                  But the issue of the diplomatic showdown with the United States has hung over
                  Jiang's visit. After signing accords with Chilean President Ricardo Largos on
                  Thursday in Santiago, Jiang again called on the United States to apologize for the

                  "I have visited many countries and I see that when people have an accident, the
                  two groups involved always say excuse me," he said in Chile.

                  In Washington, the Bush administration stood firm Saturday by its earlier
                  statements that it regretted the collision. Amid the public standoff, negotiations
                  for the release of the 24 U.S. crew members continued behind the scenes a week
                  after the incident. Also, U.S. diplomats met for a third time with the Americans
                  on China's Hainan island.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.