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US Secretary's Asia Visit

Source USIA
24 February 1999 


(Senior official on China/Thailand/Indonesia visit) (540)
By Jane Morse
USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will travel to
China this weekend to continue the top-priority "strategic dialogue"
the Clinton Administration has established during its tenure,
according to a senior Administration official speaking on background.

Briefing reporters February 24 at the State Department, the official
said the Secretary, whose first business day in China will begin on
March 1, will meet with President Jiang Zemin and all the key
officials in the Chinese government. "There will be a good opportunity
to discuss virtually every issue that is on our agenda with China with
an appropriate official during the course of the trip," the official

North Korea, South Asia, nonproliferation, human rights, and trade
issues will be among the topics to be discussed, the official said.

Despite the press play received in the American media, the issue of
the U.S. government turning down a request by the Hughes Company to
have China launch a telecommunications satellite "won't come up more
than in passing," the U.S. official said. There has been no change in
overall U.S. policy, which is to allow China to launch commercial U.S.
satellites on a case-by-case basis, the official said.

The Administration official said the fact that Albright will be
leaving for China on February 26 -- the day the State Department's
Human Rights Report will be released -- has no particular
significance. Nothing in this year's report will surprise the Chinese,
the official predicted. But he emphasized that human rights is an
important issue in U.S.-China relations, and it will be discussed
during Albright's stay.

In Thailand, the official said, Albright will make a point of
commending the Thai government for the steps it has taken to deal with
the economic crisis -- Thailand was the first country in the region to
be affected by the Asian financial crisis which started in July 1997.

The reforms Thailand has instituted are beginning to bear fruit, the
official observed. He said the Secretary is going there with a message
to "stay the course," and a promise of continued U.S. support for
Thailand's market reform efforts.

The Secretary also expects to discuss democratic reform in Thailand,
the official said. "In many senses Thailand has been a role model for

the region," the official said.

The upcoming elections in Indonesia will be of primary interest to
Albright during her stop in that country, according to the official.
These elections, the official noted, are hoped to be the first truly
free and fair elections in Indonesia since 1955.

"The Secretary will be sending the message, of course, about the need
to make sure that these elections are free, fair and credible," the
official said. He noted that Indonesia's election process has gotten
off to a good start. "The political laws have been passed; all the
major opposition parties have indicated that they're participating in
the electoral process," the official said.

Albright expects to spend approximately two days in each of the three
countries, and will return to Washington, D.C. on February 28, the
official said.