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Clinton Urges Chinese, Uighur Restraint in Xinjiang

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday renewed the U.S. call on all parties in China's troubled Xinjiang region to exercise restraint after ethnic unrest. More than 150 people have been reported killed in clashes mainly between Chinese security forces and Muslim Uighurs.

Clinton's call for restraint, at a State Department press event, was the highest-level U.S. appeal thus far on the unrest in Xinjiang, which erupted Sunday with rioting in the regional capital of Urumqi.

In the unrest, the worst reported outbreak of ethnic violence in China in decades, thousands of Uighurs - who have complained of discriminatory treatment by Beijing authorities - clashed with police and troops.

Trouble reportedly flared again Tuesday when crowds of Han Chinese took to the streets of Urumqi calling for revenge against Uighurs.

The official Chinese news media have reported at least 156 deaths and more than a thousand injuries but Uighur exile groups say the toll was probably higher. China also reported more than 1,400 arrests.

Secretary Clinton, who begins a trip next week to South and East Asia, said the United States is deeply concerned by the casualty reports.

"We are trying to sort out, as best we can the facts and circumstances from the region," said Hillary Clinton. "And we're calling on all sides to exercise restraint. We know there's a long history of tension and discontent, but the most immediate matter is to bring the violence to a conclusion."

The State Department says U.S. diplomats have expressed concern about the situation with Chinese officials in Beijing, and that the matter was raised in Washington Monday with visiting Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi attributed the violence to harsh policies in Xinjiang and said it is long past time for Chinese leaders to pursue dialogue and understanding with the Muslims in western China and respect minority rights.

Several Chinese officials have accused U.S.-based Uighur exile Rebiya Kadeer of masterminding the rioting. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly Tuesday declined comment on the charges. Kadeer herself has told reporters she advocates self-determination for China's Muslim minority but has done nothing to foment unrest.