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Foreign Diplomats Take Managed Tour of Lhasa

Diplomats from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, visited the Tibetan capital Saturday on a Chinese-approved tour of the region, after recent anti-government protests there.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement that the trip to Lhasa was heavily scheduled and participants were not able to deviate from the official itinerary, nor move around independently. The delegates were also not allowed to hold unsupervised conversations with local residents.

The U.S. Embassy said its officer on the visit urged China to exercise restraint, to engage in dialogue and to respect the fundamental right of all citizens to peacefully express their religious and political views.

The tour came two days after a similar government-controlled visit by foreign journalists was disrupted by about 30 monks of the Jokhang Temple who complained about a lack of religious freedom.

China has said it will not punish them. But officials say none of the 117 monks will be allowed to leave their temple until authorities finish investigating whether some took part in violent protests.

Late Friday, Chinese state media said the government will give families of civilians killed during riots in Lhasa on March 14 the equivalent of $28,000 in compensation.

Also Friday, Tibetan exiles said more than 100 Buddhist monks were detained Friday in an area of Sichuan province.

Peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa began March 10, on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. The unrest erupted into riots in Lhasa four days later, followed by a crackdown on protesters.

The Tibetan government in exile, based in India, says at least 140 Tibetans were killed during Chinese authorities' crackdown on protests in Lhasa and other areas.