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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 05:49 GMT 06:49 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Clinton regrets embassy bombing

Beijing students held aloft pictures of two journalists killed in the raid

President Clinton has sent a message to his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, expressing regret over Nato's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

Kosovo: Special Report
Despite the move, China has announced that it is postponing its consultations with the United States on human rights, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, arms control, and international security,

Meanwhile, protests have continued outside the US Embassy in Beijing for a third day.

Embassy official Bill Palmer told the BBC that 300 to 400 had gathered outside the building.

The BBC's Paul Anstiss: China has accused Nato of trying to cover up the mistake
On Sunday, angry crowds besieged the US Embassy, demanding revenge for the deaths of three Chinese citizens at the Belgrade embassy.

A White House spokesman said Mr Clinton had stressed in his message the importance of protecting staff at the US Embassy.

The Chinese authorities have vowed to protect foreign diplomats on its soil, but some officials, including Chinese Vice President, Hu Jintao have publicly expressed support for the protests.

Duncan Hewitt in Beijing: The mood has turned increasingly ugly
The British Embassy in Beijing has also come under attack, with thousands of angry students pelting the buillding with stones and paint.

The UK Foreign Office said on Sunday it was advising Britons against non-essential travel to China.

Serbian media reported just two Nato attacks on Sunday night, both on the southern city of Nis.

Duncan Hewitt: Expressions of regret have done little to calm the mood
One blast was heard at the airport, another in the centre of the city and there were unconfirmed reports that the post office was hit, a hub for telephone links in the region.

With low rain clouds across Yugoslavia, for the first time since bombings began, the people of the capital did not hear the sound of air raid sirens and the anti-aircraft guns were silent.

(Click here to see a map of Saturday night's bombing)

'Held hostage'

US Ambassador in Belgrade James Sasser: "Unable to leave here now for almost 50 hours"
The US ambassador in Beijing, James Sasser, said embassy staff had been hostages in the building since the demonstrations started.

Riot police were unable to stop youths hurling bottles, rocks and burning debris around the buildings.

[ image: The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised]
The Beijing protests appear to have been initially well organised
The ambassador said all the windows had been broken in the embassy building but no-one had been seriously injured.

The protestors' anger has also turned on foreign news journalists trying to report the events.

A BBC crew in Beijing has been beaten and pelted with stones, accused of insulting China.

The BBC's Jill McGivering: "The unleashed anger could be hard to contain"
BBC correspondent Jill McGivering, who was among those attacked, says the Chinese authorities have been condoning legal protests, but the angry violence now unleashed in Beijing and some other major cities could prove difficult to control.

Faulty information

The US has said an intelligence mistake, caused by faulty information, led to the bombing of the Chinese embassy.

[ image: Protesters threw rocks unhindered by the authorities]
Protesters threw rocks unhindered by the authorities
A joint statement from the US Defence Secretary, William Cohen, and the CIA director, George Tenet, said the incident was an anomaly unlikely to occur again.

The Pentagon is not expected to offer further explanation for its error, for fear of revealing too much about the process used for selecting targets.

Court case bought

Amidst the fall-out from the embassy bombing, Yugoslavia begins legal action on Monday against 10 Nato countries at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Yugoslavia contends that the alliance has acted without UN Security Council authorisation, and that it has failed to protect civilians as stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

The US and the UK are expected to argue that the court has no jurisdiction to hear Yugoslavia's case.

Diplomatic moves

Despite the Beijing unrest, diplomatic efforts towards a possible settlement in Kosovo may be back on track after Russia's Balkans envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, spoke of important developments in the search for peace.

Mr Chernomyrdin said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had taken the new developments well when told of them by phone.

Beijing Correspondent Duncan Hewitt: "This is not about to suddenly die down"
Russia and the G7 industrial countries are due to meet on Monday to continue working on the outline peace plan agreed last week.

But Nato has come under attack from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who said the air campaign had failed because those killed and injured could be classified as human-rights victims.

She said civilian deaths and injuries were not acceptable.

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