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Overnight calls brought word of release deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The sequence of events that led to the release of the U.S. crew:

  • 12:45 a.m. EDT -- U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice receives call from the U.S. State Department notifying her that Chinese officials want to see full text of letter from the U.S. ambassador to China.

  • 5 a.m. EDT -- U.S. Ambassador to China Joseph W. Preuher meets with Chinese officials who at some point provide the verbal assurances that the U.S. crew will be released.

  • 5:40 a.m. EDT -- Rice calls U.S. President George W. Bush to inform him of the commitment from the Chinese to release the U.S. crew. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says that at this point the president turns to the first lady to tell her the good news.

  • 6:30 a.m. EDT -- Chinese television reports the planned release of the U.S. crew, providing crucial confirmation to U.S. officials that all is going according to plan. Rice calls Bush a second time to confirm the release.

  • 6:50 a.m. EDT -- Bush arrives at the Oval Office, meets with senior advisers, and prepares to make an official announcement.

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