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World: Blair Meets Chinese President Before Hong Kong Handover

Hong Kong, 30 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair today urged China to forget past differences and forge a new relationship with Britain after the handover of Hong Kong to Beijing.

Blair made the comment in talks today in Hong Kong with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng shortly before the official handover. Reuters says during their talks, Zemin invited Blair to China on an official trip.

Meanwhile, the first contingent of Chinese troops deployed across the border into Hong Kong today.

In ceremonies earlier today, Chris Patten, the 28th and last British governor of the territory, accepted the Union Jack flag lowered from his residence as he prepared to leave.

U.S. President Bill Clinton again warned China that the United States would carefully monitor Beijing to ensure it upholds Hong Kong's institutions.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, is to formally hand over Hong Kong to Jiang at a ceremony beginning shortly.