US, China Agree to Fight Terrorism, Differ over Xinjiang
The United States and China Thursday agreed to step up cooperation in fighting international terrorism, despite ongoing differences over how to handle Muslim separatists in western China, a US counter-terrorist envoy said.
Ambassador-at-large Francis Taylor said the two sides agreed to establish a US-China financial terrorism working group, while Beijing would give "positive consideration" to the United States' request of setting up a law enforcement office in Beijing.
"We anticipate posting FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) personnel to that office, if approved, which will greatly approve the efficiency of our law enforcement cooperation," Taylor said.
Twice yearly meetings on counter-terrorism would also be held in an effort to coordinate actions at the United Nations, on intelligence gathering, law enforcement and financial monitoring, he said.
During the talks, Taylor admitted that US forces had captured in Afghanistan "people from Western China" who had been fighting with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
However, Washington still did not consider Muslim separatists in western China to be terrorists, he said.
"The US does not designate or consider the East Turkestan organization as a terrorist organization," Taylor said.
"The legitimate economic and social issues that confront the people in Western China are not necessarily terrorist issues and should be resolved politically rather than using counter-terrorism methods."
China claims that separatists fighting for an independent East Turkestan in its western-most Xinjiang region are terrorists and since the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States has called on the US to "understand" its ongoing crackdown there.
Taylor denied the United States had entered any "quid-pro-quo" bargain with China to get Beijing to cooperate in the global war on terrorism.
Earlier, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said the two sides had reached a "wide consensus" during the two days of talks, but declined to say if it covered the situation in Xinjiang.
"The two sides ... exchanged views on the international and regional anti-terrorism situation, the Afghan question, and the cooperation between China and the United States to combat terrorism, and reached wide consensus," she told journalists.
During his talks, Taylor met with Vice Foreign Ministers Li Zhaoxing and Wang Yi, the deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army Xiong Guangkai, as well as Chinese law enforcement and banking officials -- AFP
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