China says it will reopen Tibet to foreign tourists in May nearly two months after the remote Himalayan region was sealed off to visitors and reporters following anti-government protests.

Quoting Tibet's tourism bureau, China's official Xinhua news agency says independent travelers as well as those on group tours would be welcomed back on May 1.

Chinese authorities began clearing Tibet of foreign tourists and banned reporters from traveling there after rare peaceful protests in mid-March turned violent. The unrest spread to other Tibetan regions in China, and reporters were barred from those areas as well.

The announced decision to reopen Tibet to tourists comes as U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson visits China. During meetings with Chinese officials Wednesday, Paulson voiced Washington's concern about the recent violence in Tibet.

During talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Paulson appealed to Chinese officials to seek a peaceful resolution of the unrest through dialogue.

Chinese state media say Foreign Minister Yang told Paulson that Washington should understand Beijing's position on the recent riots in Tibet's regional capital, Lhasa.

Yang was also quoted as saying the United States should see what he says is the "true nature" of the Dalai Lama. Beijing accuses the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader of instigating the violence in China, a charge he denies.

Paulson is the most senior U.S. official to visit China since it began cracking down on protests in Tibet and other regions last month.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP.