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U.S., China reach broad agreement to resume human rights dialogue+
[March 26, 2006]

U.S., China reach broad agreement to resume human rights dialogue+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)WASHINGTON, March 26_(Kyodo) _ The United States and China have reached a broad agreement to resume human rights dialogue after a two-year hiatus, sources familiar with U.S.-China relations told Kyodo News on Sunday.

The two countries are seeking to finalize the agreement at a summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao on April 20 in Washington, the sources said.

The dialogue has been suspended largely due to Beijing's protest over Washington's submission of a resolution in 2004 to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights condemning China's human rights record.

The broad agreement was reached following a series of working-level bilateral meetings earlier this year, including talks between Barry Lowenkron, assistant secretary at the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and his Chinese counterpart in mid-February in Beijing.

Pundits said China has eased its stance and accepted the dialogue in an effort to avert mounting criticism in the United States over its human rights record.

The U.S. State Department said earlier this month in an annual report that China, Myanmar and North Korea remained "the world's most systematic human rights violators" along with four other countries -- Iran, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Belarus -- in 2005.

The 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which covered more than 100 countries, accused Beijing of continued serious human rights abuses. Not only did the government violently suppress public protests and restrict the media, but measures aimed at reforming the government remained unfulfilled, the report said.

Despite increasingly close ties between the United States and China, Washington has long criticized Beijing on human rights.

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