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US to continue to engage with Chinese dissident

Beijing: Amid a row over the US embassy here sheltering a blind Chinese dissident, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said she is "pleased" that American officials were able to facilitate his "stay and departure" and asserted that they would continue to "engage" with him.

"I am pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng`s stay and departure from the US embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values," Clinton, who is here to take part in the annual high-level talks with Chinese leaders, said after the blind rights activist left the US embassy premises.

"I was glad to have the chance to speak with him today and to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children," Clinton said in a statement. Chen has "a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment," she said in a gentle reminder to Beijing to respect the reported understanding reached with the human rights activist.

US officials said 40-year-old Chen was driven out after Chinese officials guaranteed that no further legal issues will be directed at Chen and that reports of mistreatment against him by police will be investigated. "Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task. The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Chen and his family in the days, weeks and years ahead," Clinton said.

According to American officials, China has made it clear that he wants to stay in China and so he will be moved to a "safe environment" away from the province where he was kept under house arrest. He may attend a university, a US official said. The US has defended the move to shelter Chen as a "lawful" decision and gave no indication that an apology would be forthcoming as demanded by China.

"This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstance, we do not anticipate that it will be repeated," Fox News quoted a US official as saying. However, Chen`s family and friends were reportedly disappointed that the US has not offered him asylum which he was expecting. The US move could be a dampener to the Chinese dissident community which looks to Washington for support, his supporters said.

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