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Olympic Torch To Make Brief Tibet Stop

June 17, 2008

From correspondents in Beijing
Agence France-Presse
June 16, 2008 03:15pm

THE Beijing Olympic torch relay will make a one-day stop in Tibet on
Saturday, Chinese state media has reported.

Officials say they are unable to confirm the time schedule.

China scrapped its plans to take the torch through the restive
Himalayan region for three days from Thursday in the wake of the
devastating May 12 earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province.

But the Beijing News, citing one of the torch bearers who has been
chosen to carry the flame in Tibet, said the new plan was to run the
leg in Lhasa for one day only, on June 21.

"We can't confirm that report," said Zhang Liang, an official at the
Beijing Olympic organising committee's torch relay office.

"The next stages of the torch relay will be announced later."

The torch is in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing and will
then head for Xinjiang, China's Muslim-dominated western-most region
where it will stay for three days from tomorrow until Thursday.

Officials have not yet announced where it would go from there.

However, the English language China Daily said it would travel
directly to Tibet and then on to Qinghai province.

"After the Chongqing leg (on June 15 and 16), the route is being
decided a stage by stage basis," said Mr Zhang.

The Olympic torch had originally been due to pass through Sichuan
during mid-June and then go directly to Tibet, passing through a
district south of Lhasa on June 19 before spending the following two
days in the Tibetan capital.

But last month's earthquake triggered wholesale changes to the route
which involved switching the mid-June Sichuan section to the first
week in August and leaving the rest of the route in limbo.

The Tibet leg has been a major security concern for China since
protests against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region were followed
by a government crackdown in which 203 people died according to
exiled Tibetan leaders.

China has so far reported killing one Tibetan "insurgent" and says
"rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths.

Pro-Tibet protesters were prominent in huge demonstrations which
dogged the international section of the Beijing torch relay in
London, Paris and San Francisco in April.
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