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China: Albright Opens Beijing Talks

Beijing, 24 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright opened her contacts with Chinese leaders in Beijing today by holding a round of talks with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.

At a joint press conference with Qian before they went into their talks, Albright praised the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. She described him as a historic figure who had transformed China's economy and had done much for Sino-U.S. relations.

Qian also praised Deng, and said Beijing is ready to work with Washington to steadily improve Sino-U.S. ties, despite their sometimes different ways of viewing things.

Albright said she planned to discuss economic and political issues as well as human rights in her talks with Qian, President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Li Peng and other leaders.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has called for more international pressure on China to improve its human rights record, saying Beijing has not done enough.

Rifkind said today that there had not been what he called "any marked improvement in the situation."

Rifkind was speaking to reporters in Brussels where he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers. The EU is hoping to convince Washington to co-sponsor a United Nations resolution criticizing China's human rights record.

The "New York Times" published a report saying Washington and Beijing are close to a deal on human rights. But U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns subsequently dismissed the article as inaccurate.