Clinton Leaves China for Bangladesh

Posted May 5th, 2012 at 3:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left the diplomatic drama in China for Bangladesh, the latest stop on her South Asian tour.

Clinton will meet with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her opposition rival, Begum Khaleda Zia on Saturday.

The top U.S. diplomat is also set to meet with Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunnus, whose removal from the pioneering micro-lender Grameen Bank has been criticized by Washington.

Clinton arrives in Bangladesh at a time of mounting turmoil over the disappearance of an opposition leader.

The secretary of state left China Friday with an agreement from the Chinese government that dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad, a breakthrough in the diplomatic dispute that began when he escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. embassy.

Clinton said Friday she was “encouraged” by the latest Chinese position on the Chen case. The secretary of state was in the Chinese capital for annual high-level talks that were largely overshadowed by the Chen drama.

American officials confirmed reports that Chen has received a letter from a U.S. university offering him a fellowship. One of his friends said the school is New York University, and that the blind activist hopes to travel to the U.S. for a while before returning to China.

Some human rights activists say the U.S. should be skeptical about the Chinese government's assurances regarding the safety of Chen.

Chen is a self-taught lawyer and human rights activist who has been blind since childhood. He was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 for exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control. He had been under house arrest since 2010, before escaping on April 22.