Activist pleads for US help to leave China

Activist Chen Guangcheng told AFP on Thursday he did not feel safe in China despite assurances made under a deal to remove him from the US embassy and pleaded for US help to take him abroad.

"I want to go overseas. I want the US to help me and my family. They helped me before," Chen said by phone from a Beijing hospital where he is being treated for a foot injury suffered during a daring escape from house arrest on April 22.

"I don't feel safe here. I want to leave."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday told China that it cannot deny the "aspirations" of its citizens as she opened talks in Beijing marred by a row over the Chinese dissident.

"We believe that all governments do have to answer to citizens' aspirations for dignity and the rule of law and that no nation can or should deny those rights," Clinton said as she opened the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Clinton, however, did not directly mention the name of Chen who on Wednesday left refuge at the US embassy in a deal that has been criticised by human rights activists.

Clinton also called for cooperation between the United States on a wide range of issues including North Korea, Iran and Sudan.

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