PRESIDENT Bill Clinton and senior advisers are considering a deal in which Beijing will resume human rights talks - if the United States drops its annual United Nations resolution condemning Beijing's record. The trade-off was suggested by President Jiang Zemin at last month's presidential summit in New York, and Washington is hurrying to have its response ready when Mr Clinton meets Mr Jiang again in Osaka in two weeks' time. However, human rights activists are horrified at the suggestion that the US would stop taking the lead in the annual resolution, in which it commonly joins the European Union in criticising human rights in China. Human Rights Watch/ Asia has written to senior administration officials, warning such a move 'would be an enormous setback to the cause of human rights in China'. The dilemma for the White House is whether the promise of new bilateral human rights talks with China - Beijing suspended them 18 months ago - is worth the criticism it would encounter if it stopped pursuing the human rights issue through the annual UN resolution. Last year, the US teamed with the EU and managed for the first time to get a vote on a motion critical of China. However, Third World countries sided with the mainland, and many Asian nations abstained, causing the motion to go down by just one vote. The issue will come up again in March at the UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva. A Washington source said another resolution on China would have 'no chance' of success without the US doing the same hard lobbying it carried out this year. An administration official said: 'China is concerned at the prospect of the resolution, and they don't feel a bilateral dialogue is something they can enter into unless they know the resolution is something we won't get involved with.' Asked whether the US expected Beijing to start talking about human rights again after the coming summit, he said: 'Hope yes, expect no. It's still a long shot, but will remain near the top of our agenda.' The Human Rights Watch/Asia letter called on President Clinton not to sacrifice the UN resolution in order to resume a purely bilateral dialogue which had not produced significant results. It said a UN resolution 'is the only forum in which the Chinese Government can be held accountable by the international community for its egregious human rights abuses'. It went on: 'We strongly believe it would be an enormous setback for the cause of human rights in China - and worldwide - if the United States, the European Union, Japan and other governments abandoned the effort to pursue a similar resolution in Geneva next March.' The presidential summit will take place this month on the fringes of the Association of Economic Co-operation leaders' meeting in Osaka.