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GOP Congressmen Boycott Breakfast With Chinese Leader

Dems Report Conversation Cordial, But Very General

Chinese and US flags

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 10) -- With the GOP invitees boycotting, Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian ate breakfast with congressional Democrats and former defense and national security officials this morning.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has no plans to meet with Chi during his two-week visit to the United States. This morning's breakfast "would not have been a cordial meeting had it occurred," Helms spokesman Marc Thiessen told The Associated Press.

Democrats at the meeting reported having a cordial but very general chat with Chi and that they avoided human rights topics. "The most important element of the meeting from my perspective was that it took place," Sen. Charles Robb (D-Va.) told AP. "Notwithstanding the very significant differences which exist -- on missile sales, arms sales, human rights -- none of those differences are likely to be solved more easily by avoiding direct contact."

Defense Secretary William Perry and Chi met at the Pentagon Monday, discussing such issues as human rights, missing World War II soldiers and Hong Kong.

Chi sidestepped a question Monday about whether China had sold nuclear missile technology to Iran and Pakistan, saying through a translator, "I can tell you in a responsible manner that on this question the official position of the Chinese government has been made clear on many occasions. That is: China will do things that are conducive to peace and stability, and China will always refrain from doing things that are detrimental to peace and stability."

Perry and Chi

"I think on some of such issues the media have blown the issue out of proportion, have exaggerated the issue," Chi said. "China has followed very strictly and our export of equipment arms and technology are placed on a safeguards. And we also made necessary reporting to the relevant organizations. So some of those issues have been exaggerated and some of these issues simply do not exist."

As a gesture of good will, the Chinese general gave Perry a pair of dog tags, a canteen and some videotape of the site of a downed American B-24 that has been discovered in Guangxi province, about two hours north of Guilin, China, the official said. American POW-MIA officials will go to China soon to receive some remains.

The aircraft evidently crashed during the World War II "air bridge" of supplies to the Chinese. In presenting the items, Chi said the Chinese "will never forget the great contribution" made by the United States.

The Pentagon did not release the number of U.S. airmen on the plane, or exactly where and when it crashed. The B-24 "Liberator" typically carried a 10-man crew, and was used extensively in World War II.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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