CHINA EXPELS TWO U.S. OFFICERS

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Troubled U.S. relations with Beijinggrew testier as China expelled two U.S. Air Force officers after detaining them for several days on charges of spying. "We're not aware of anything out of the routine about their travel in China," White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said today, adding that the men carried diplomatic passports and valid visas. The Americans, who were caught last week shooting videotape and taking pictures off China's southern coast in an area where military maneuvers were recently held, were expelled after Secretary of State Warren Christopher met yesterday with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. Christopher reportedly did not mention the two during the meeting. "The Administration has been discreet in its reaction," saysTIME's Mark Thompson. "Plainly, negotiations between China and Washington are so fragile that if these two were doing anything untoward, the U.S. wanted to whisk them home as quickly as possible and start with a fresh slate."