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Clinton's late-night diplomacy unsettles Chinese

By Juliet Eilperin
COPENHAGEN--Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's decision to skip this morning's ad-hoc meeting of President Obama and world leaders got people in the Bella Center buzzing about whether the U.S. might have something to offend him in the course of the night.

Not exactly. But it appears impromptu meetings aren't a real hit with the Chinese delegation.

Chatting with other leaders at dinner last night with the Danish royal family, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped devise the idea of having a late-night work session with more than three dozen world leaders to draft a possible political statement . She even called Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi twice to discuss it, according to a senior administration official who asked not to be identified. Beijing wasn't pleased.

"It did create some consternation within the Chinese ranks," the official said. "The Chinese prefer a more predictable process."

But the way the U.N.-sponsored talks are going, the official cautioned, "The event is now in a place that's not necessarily predictable."

Wen sent a lower-level aide to the morning meeting, before sitting down with Obama himself in the early afternoon.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  December 18, 2009; 9:42 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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