Beijing is prepared to resume formal talks with Washington on its World Trade Organisation membership after the 10th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen student crackdown, according to a mainland negotiator. The negotiator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the mainland probably would be ready to talk in July. That was when tempers in both countries were poised to cool, with Washington expected to send an envoy to Beijing to offer a satisfactory explanation of the Nato bombing of its Belgrade embassy early this month. Strained Sino-US ties plummeted after the bombing and were aggravated by the release this week of a congressional report alleging sustained and concerted efforts by Beijing to steal nuclear secrets from the US. 'We have suspended political exchanges and human rights discussions after the bombing,' the negotiator said. 'Trade talks remain the key form of engagement with the US and we do not want to close that off. 'We hope to resume talks after the anniversary of the June 4 event, preferably in July, when the political mood on both sides is not so strained.' His remarks came amid reports that Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, had urged President Bill Clinton to put WTO negotiations with Beijing on hold because of the strained relations. Yesterday, a mainland Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying the mainland economy would not be hurt even if the talks dragged on. Beijing is insistent it wants to end the 13-year negotiations and join the global trade body by the end of the year - but at the right price. 'We will not cancel the WTO talks unilaterally, but we will stiffen our stance by not making any more concessions,' the negotiator said. Beijing suspended the last round of WTO talks on May 18 after the Nato bombing. US negotiator Robert Cassidy has been waiting for the green light from Beijing to resume talks, but this is likely only after a US explanation of the Nato bombing. Under the original timetable, Beijing was to conclude WTO talks with Washington next month, followed by a deal with Tokyo a month later to be announced during Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's proposed mainland trip. The negotiator said these plans might be delayed by the volatile Sino-US ties, but they would not be cancelled. Indications that the two did not want to break-off talks altogether were seen from a meeting between US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and her mainland counterpart Long Yongtu on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris this week. Their meeting reiterated the broad principles of Beijing's WTO entry, but did not amount to a resumption of formal talks.