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China: Tibet Not A Human Rights Problem; Protests Continue


Chinese President Hu Jintao says Tibet is not a human rights problem and is an issue for China alone to handle.

The official Xinhua news agency Saturday reports Mr. Hu made the statement in a meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have detained nine Buddhist monks in Tibet in connection with the bombing of a government building March 23.

Xinhua did not mention any deaths or damage resulting from the bombing.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised to meet again with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Their last meeting chilled relations between Germany and China. Ms. Merkel told a German newspaper China should pursue a dialogue over Tibet.

China launched a crackdown last month on pro-Tibet demonstrations in Tibet and nearby areas.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, urged China to ease international concern about human rights in Tibet following the recent unrest there. They advised Beijing to allow more foreign journalists and diplomats into the Tibetan region.

In New Delhi Saturday, hundreds of Tibetan exiles held a protest march ahead of Thursday's arrival of the Olympic torch in the Indian capital.

North Korea's Olympic Committee condemned what it called "disruptive forces" protesting along the torch's route around the world. The torch arrives in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on April 28.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say about 140 people have been killed since mid-March in the unrest in Tibet. China says it has acted with restraint, and blames any casualties on Tibetan rioters. Beijing says about 20 people died in the unrest.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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