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Chen left embassy after pledge of Obama support

Last Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 10:32

Washington: Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng agreed to leave the US embassy in Beijing after receiving assurances President Barack Obama would publicly back the deal, a US friend involved in the negotiations said on Wednesday.

"We made a condition of acceptance that President Obama himself show his interest and state the US support for the arrangement and I`m sure Obama, in the light of the campaign, will soon have an opportunity to take that position," leading China expert Jerome Cohen, told reporters.

Beijing pledged the legal campaigner and his family would be treated "humanely" and moved to a safe place, US officials said, hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in China for pre-arranged talks.

"We agreed if the President of the United States would show sufficient concern of this case and himself make the kind of statement that Hillary made today, that he (Chen) would accept the deal," added Cohen, who is an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chen, who riled Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under the "one-child" policy, fled house arrest on April 22 and sought refuge in the US embassy, where he demanded assurances over his freedom.

On Wednesday, US officials said he had left the embassy after receiving those assurances, and had been reunited with his wife and two children.

Chen agreed to leave the embassy after winning a promise to be allowed to undertake law studies freely with his wife at a Chinese university, Cohen said in a telephone conference with journalists.

He added he had spoken twice with Chen during the six days that he was holed up in the embassy building.

Cohen said he hoped Obama "will make an important statement to show at the very highest level of the American government we want to see this new experiment, this daring experiment with China, succeed”.

Hillary said the United States remained "committed" to the 40-year-old legal campaigner, whose treatment she has repeatedly criticised in the past.

"The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Mr Chen and his family in the days, weeks and years ahead," she said.

Cohen said it was understood that Obama would make a similar statement.


First Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 10:32
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