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US House Speaker urges Beijing/Uighur dialogue

July 07, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday blamed China's "harsh policies" for fueling resentment among its Uighur population and urged Beijing to seek a dialogue with the Muslim minority.

Pelosi, one of President Barack Obama's top Democratic allies, deplored "deeply disturbing" reports of violence in China's remote northwest Xinjiang region, where Han Chinese have blamed Uighurs for deadly weekend clashes.

"The acts of violence and attempts to further exacerbate ethnic tensions on all sides must be rejected," said the California lawmaker, a frequent critic of Beijing's rights record.

"The Chinese government should take the necessary steps to ensure that the right to peaceful expression is protected and to allow journalists, observers, and organizations to report on developments without restrictions," she said.

As authorities tried to restore calm in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, Pelosi charged that "harsh policies" by Chinese authorities in the region have caused "increased tension and resentment among the Uighur people."

"It is long past time for Chinese leaders to pursue activities that further dialogue and understanding with the Uighur people and respect minority rights as guaranteed under Chinese law," she said.

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