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Bush Again Calls for Prompt Release of U.S. Crew

Text: Bush Calls for Prompt Release of U.S. Crew, Return of Plane

(Chinese government has had time to "do the right thing") (380)

President Bush called on the Beijing government to arrange the prompt return of the U.S. crew and aircraft that made an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan March 31 following a collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

"We have allowed the Chinese government time to do the right thing. But now it is time for our servicemen and women to return home. And it is time for the Chinese government to return our plane," Bush said in a statement April 3.

Following is the text of Bush's statement:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

April 3, 2001

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

The Rose Garden

4:03 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I want to report to the American people, and especially to the families involved, that I've just talked with Brigadier General Sealock, who, earlier today, met with our 24 men and women in China.

The General tells me they are in good health, they suffered no injuries, and they have not been mistreated. I know this is a relief to their loved ones, and to all Americans.

Our crew members expressed their faith in America, and we have faith in them. They send their love to their families. They said they're looking forward to coming home, and we are looking forward to bringing them home.

This is an unusual situation, in which an American military aircraft had to make an emergency landing on Chinese soil. Our approach has been to keep this accident from becoming an international incident. We have allowed the Chinese government time to do the right thing. But now it is time for our servicemen and women to return home. And it is time for the Chinese government to return our plane.

This accident has the potential of undermining our hopes for a fruitful and productive relationship between our two countries. To keep that from happening, our servicemen and women need to come home.

Thank you very much.

END 4:05 P.M. EDT

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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