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US will join official Chinese trip to Tibet: spokesman

March 28, 2008

WASHINGTON March 28, 2008 (AFP) — China has responded to US requests for
access to Tibet by inviting a US embassy officer to join an official
Chinese delegation to Lhasa, the State Department said Thursday.

The US embassy has accepted the invitation for the trip on Friday and
Saturday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

"We see this as a step in the right direction, but it's not a substitute
for the ability of our diplomats, as well as others, to travel not only
to Lhasa, but into the surrounding area specifically," he added.

He said Washington would "continue to press for, free and full access to
the affected areas, including currently closed areas outside the Tibet
autonomous region in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces."

McCormack repeated US calls for the Chinese government to act with
restraint toward protesters in Tibet and open talks with the Dalai Lama,
the Tibetan spiritual leader.

"Everybody wants to see a long-term, stable solution to the questions
surrounding Tibet and its status. The Dalai Lama is not somebody who has
called for independence," he added.

"So we would urge the Chinese government to take this moment to reach
out to the Dalai Lama and engage in a dialogue," he said.
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