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Finessing Foreign Policy

Finessing Foreign PolicyA Tufts foreign policy expert says "semantics" may have been the key to bringing U.S. crew home.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.12.01] Both the U.S. and China scored foreign policy victories on Wednesday, as officials from the two countries reached an agreement to return 24 military personnel back to America. After 10 days of negotiations, the semantics of a letter from the U.S. to China proved to be crucial, says a Tufts political science professor.

"Tufts foreign policy expert Jeffrey Taliaferro says the language in the letter allows U.S. President George Bush and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to 'save face,'" reported Boston's Channel 7 news.

Over the last week, talks between the two countries revolved around a U.S. apology.

Explaining that U.S. leaders carefully "finessed the language," Taliaferro said, "When the statements [in the letter] are translated into Chinese, one of the connotations is 'we're sorry.'"

The Tufts political science professor also told the Boston news station that the importance of U.S.-China relations may have helped the negotiation progress.

"Both leaders and their respective advisors, realized there are too many issues on the table to let what is really a minor incident disrupt relations," Taliaferro said.

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