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China: Albright Hails Invitation To Religious Leaders

Washington, 29 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said yesterday that Washington is pleased that China has invited three American religious leaders to Beijing to discuss their concerns.

She told reporters that the move is encouraging and a welcome step in the direction of openness.

On the eve of U.S.-China summit talks in Washington, China invited representatives of the Jewish, Catholic and Evangelical religions to Beijing.

Albright said the talks beginning officially today at the White House will be candid and comprehensive. Responding to criticism of China's human rights record, Albright stressed that the summit meeting is an expression of U.S. engagement with China, a rising force in the world, not endorsement of Beijing policies.

She said the U.S. approach will include talks about differences and a determination to press human rights issues. And she said other items on the agenda will include environment and energy, technology exports and illegal drug smuggling.