INDEPENDENT NEWS

White House On Release Of U.S. Crew In China

Published: Thu 12 Apr 2001 10:02 AM
White House Statements On Release Of US Crew In China
Text: Bush Says Plans Underway to Return 24 Members of Air Crew from China
(He says arrangements being made to pick them up and bring them home)
President Bush told reporters in the White House Briefing Room early April 11 that "plans are underway to bring home our 24 American servicemen and women from Hainan Island.
"We are working on arrangements to pick them up and to bring them home," he said.
Following is the White House text:
(begin text)
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2001
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON RELEASE OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN IN CHINA
James S. Brady Briefing Room 8:25 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm pleased to be able to tell the American people that plans are underway to bring home our 24 American servicemen and women from Hainan Island.
This morning, the Chinese government assured our American Ambassador that the crew would leave promptly. We're working on arrangements to pick them up and to bring them home.
This has been a difficult situation for both our countries. I know the American people join me in expressing sorrow for the loss of life of a Chinese pilot. Our prayers are with his wife and his child.
I appreciate the hard work of our Ambassador to China, Joseph Prueher, and his entire embassy team, who worked tirelessly to solve this situation. The American people, their families, and I are proud of our crew, and we look forward to welcoming them home.
Thank you.
(end text)
Text: White House: Agreement Reached to Bring Home Air Crew from China
(U.S. Ambassador got assurances air crew to be allowed to leave promptly)
The White House announced early April 11 that "an agreement has been reached to bring home the flight crew of our EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft on Hainan Island."
In a written statement, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said "The U.S. Ambassador (to China) has received verbal assurances from the Chinese government that the air crew will be allowed to leave promptly."
Following is the White House text:
(begin text)
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2001
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
An agreement has been reached to bring home the flight crew of our EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft on Hainan Island.
The US Ambassador has received verbal assurances from the Chinese government that the air crew will be allowed to leave promptly. Ambassador Prueher has delivered to the Chinese government a letter concerning this incident and we are working out with the Chinese government the arrangements for departure.
(end White House text)
White House Report: Timeline of Developments Concerning Chinese Decision
(Details events surrounding agreement to release U.S. crew)
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer early April 11 detailed overnight developments leading to China's decision to allow the 24 U.S. crew members on Hainan Island to return to the United States.
The crew members have been on the Chinese island since making an emergency landing there April 1 following a collision with a Chinese jet fighter plane over the South China Sea.
Fleischer detailed overnight developments to the press on Air Force One as they accompanied President Bush as he flew to North Carolina to make a speech on education.
Following is the Washington, D.C. timeline:
At 10:30 p.m., President Bush calls the National Security Council for "an update on where things stood" and is told U.S. and China officials are talking logistics, which the President takes as an encouraging sign. As he turns in for the night, there is no meeting between U.S. and Chinese diplomats scheduled.
At 12:45 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage calls National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and tells her the Chinese want to see the final text of the U.S. letter and that U.S. Ambassador to China Joseph Prueher is to be called in for a meeting.
Between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., "Prueher went in and met with Chinese officials, gave them a copy of the signed letter and received verbal assurance" that the 24 U.S. crew members would be released."
At 5:40 a.m., Bush calls NSC Advisor Rice, who tells him it looks as if the matter will soon be resolved. "The President said, good; leaned over and told Laura that it looks like the matter is going to be resolved."
Around 6:30 a.m., Rice calls the President back to say Chinese state television reports to its people that the matter has been resolved, and the U.S. servicemen and women will be sent back to America. "That's great," Mr. Bush says.
At 6:50 a.m. Bush arrives in the Oval Office.
At about 7:15 a.m. the Press Secretary releases a statement to the press and the text of the letter.
At 8:25 a.m. Bush makes a statement to the press.
Fleischer said Bush, while on his trip to North Carolina April 11 is "monitoring" the situation "and being informed about what plans are shaping up for the logistics of bringing back the men and women."
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
White House Report: Bush Praises Patriotism of U.S. Crew, Meets Parents
(President says "we owe a debt of gratitude" to military, their families)
President Bush opened a speech on education in Concord, North Carolina April 11 by telling the audience that "right after my visit here I am going to meet with the family of Petty Officer Third Class Steven Blocher," one of the 24 U.S. service members in China.
Bush said he was "really looking forward to letting Steven's family know that we're in the process of bringing their son home."
Bush said he was "grateful for the opportunity to tell the Blochers how much America appreciates their son's patriotism and service to his country; and how much we appreciate the service of our men and women in uniform throughout the world.
"Situations such as this remind us how much our military personnel and their families sacrifice for our freedom. It also reminds me, it's such an honor to be the Commander-in-Chief of such wonderful people."
Later, at Bush's meeting with the Blochers, the President again expressed how appreciative he was "of how this family and the other families were steadfast in their patriotism and loyalty. They raised a boy who loves his country, and we owe a debt of gratitude to not only the servicemen and women, but to their parents, as well."
Mr. Blocher told the President that "this morning worked out even better than we had hoped. It's an honor to meet the President; but to meet the President under such happy circumstances was more than we could ask the Lord for in any way."
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: )

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