VICE-president Al Gore last night signalled an apparent softening of the United States' stance on whether to renew Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status for China. In the face of Beijing's slow progress on human rights issues since President Bill Clinton extended MFN last May, Mr Gore said that the nation's overall relationship with China was just as important as any single issue. Interviewed on NBC television, he said: ''We are serious about improvements in human rights in China, it's part of our core values as a country and as an administration, and we will pursue tha vigorously. ''But that does not mean you don't have any dialogue with China at all. ''We are trying to put pressure on China to move forward, and we've done a lot more than anybody thought would occur.'' When asked twice whether he stood by his former remarks that release of all Tiananmen Square protesters from Chinese jails should be an absolute condition of MFN renewal, Mr Gore avoided a direct response. He said: ''We do think they should be released, and we want that to happen.'' He said arms proliferation and human rights were both areas where co-operation was being sought, but added: ''You have to look at the entire relationship (with China)''.