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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Nepal to put troops on Everest to block Tibet demos

March 31, 2008

KATHMANDU March 29, 2008 (AFP) — Nepal is to deploy soldiers on its side
of Mount Everest to prevent pro-Tibet protests when China carries the
Olympic torch to the summit in early May, officials told AFP.

Government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said video
cameras would be banned from the area and foreign climbers would only be
allowed near the top of the world's highest peak once the Olympic
expedition was clear.

"Four soldiers will stay at Everest base camp while another four will
remain at camp two," an official said.

The soldiers will "monitor the activities of expedition teams so that no
anti-China protest takes place," the source said.

Nepal officially respects its giant northern neighbour's "One China
policy" and accepts Beijing's line that Tibet and Taiwan and indivisible
parts of China.

But it is also home to around 20,000 Tibetan exiles, many of whom have
been protesting almost daily since unrest broke out in Tibet on March
10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet.

A Chinese team plans to take the torch to the summit of the 8,848-metre
(29,028-feet) mountain -- which straddles the border between Nepal and
Chinese-controlled Tibet -- in early May.

The northern side of the world's highest peak will be closed off
altogether to private expeditions.

On the south side, as well as the video ban and soldiers, no climbers
will be able to stay above the second of four camps between May 1-10
while the Chinese team are climbing, the officials said.

Earlier this week, Nepal's Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan said her
country was wary of upsetting its giant northern neighbour.

"The Olympic flame is very important for China and we know we have to do
everything to help them have a successful Olympics," she said.

Despite the restrictions, mountaineers expressed relief that the
mountain was not being closed off altogether as many had feared.

"We are happy that government finally made a decision," said Ishwori
Poudel, an expedition organiser who has 55 foreign clients -- paying
tens of thousands of dollars each -- who will try and summit this spring.

"We will start fixing ropes and ladders from Saturday," he said.

Time is quickly running out as tackling Everest requires weeks of
preparation by Sherpas who have to lay hundreds of ladders across the
Khumbu Icefall -- the dangerous maze of ice just above base camp -- as
well as lay out kilometres of rope alone the route.

The main Everest climbing season is in May, when a favourable change in
weather conditions creates a window of opportunity of about two weeks.
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