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Olympic Torch Arrives in Vietnam


The Olympic flame is in Vietnam after making its first relay through tightly controlled North Korea.

The torch arrived at Ho Chi Minh City airport Monday under heavy security. It will be paraded through Vietnam's largest city, formerly known as Saigon, Tuesday.

Vietnam's government has promised its ally China a peaceful torch relay, like the one Monday in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang. Tens of thousands of people in Pyongyang cheered and waved along the 20-kilometer route, as 80 athletes carried the torch.

But the relay has sparked protests in several major cities along the worldwide route, due to concern about Beijing's human rights record and its crackdown on recent unrest in Tibet and other Tibetan regions of China.

During Sunday's relay in South Korea, human rights groups protested China's deportation of North Korean refugees, who face stiff punishment or execution for fleeing the North. They were overwhelmed by thousands of Chinese students who threw stones, bottles and other objects at the protesters.

The Yonhap news agency says more than 10,000 Chinese took to the streets during the relay, many of whom flew from China specifically to counter anti-Beijing rallies.

South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon today sent a message to Chinese Ambassador Ning Fukui, expressing his government's "strong regret" about the acts of some of the Chinese students.

The torch relay began March 24 in Greece and will end August 8 at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

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

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