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
Buenos Aires hotel.
The Chinese president flew here after two days in Chile, where he insisted
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
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
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
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
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,
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.