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US Diplomat to Travel to Lhasa on Chinese-Led Trip བོད་སྐད།


A U.S. official is scheduled to travel to Tibet Friday on the heels of a Chinese government-led tour for foreign journalists that backfired.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said Thursday that the American diplomat was invited to join a Chinese-led trip to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital and the scene of recent violent anti-China protests.

The unidentified officer from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing will be in Lhasa through Saturday.

U.S. officials say they are pressing for unfettered access to other parts of Tibet.

Earlier Thursday, about 30 Buddhist monks in Lhasa interrupted a government-led media tour to complain that they have been kept locked inside their temple since the protests.

The monks from the Jokhang Temple said they had not been involved in the recent outbursts, and they denied China's accusations that Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was behind the unrest.

They spoke to foreign journalists for about 15 minutes in Tibetan and Mandarin before government officials broke in and escorted the visitors away from the temple.

China's Foreign Ministry says it is unable to confirm whether authorities in Lhasa confined monks to their temples and monasteries.

Foreign journalists say the police presence in Tibet is heavy, and the smell of burning buildings still hangs in the air. Journalists were allowed only a limited glimpse of Lhasa, but they did see some shops that were burned during the protests.

Peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa began March 10th, on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibetan exile groups say the situation turned violent after Chinese police used force to stop the rallies.

Unconfirmed reports from Tibetan exile groups say protests have continued in western China's Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.

Exile groups say at least 140 Tibetans were killed during Chinese authorities' crackdown on protests in Lhasa and other areas. Officials in Beijing say more than 400 people - mostly Tibetans, but also some Han Chinese - were detained for alleged involvement in the March 14th riots in Lhasa.

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