WASHINGTON (AFP) - China has responded to US requests for access to Tibet by inviting a US embassy officer to join an official Chinese delegation to Lhasa, the State Department said Thursday.
The US embassy has accepted the invitation for the trip on Friday and Saturday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
"We see this as a step in the right direction, but it's not a substitute for the ability of our diplomats, as well as others, to travel not only to Lhasa, but into the surrounding area specifically," he added.
He said Washington would "continue to press for, free and full access to the affected areas, including currently closed areas outside the Tibet autonomous region in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces."
McCormack repeated US calls for the Chinese government to act with restraint toward protesters in Tibet and open talks with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.
"Everybody wants to see a long-term, stable solution to the questions surrounding Tibet and its status. The Dalai Lama is not somebody who has called for independence," he added.
"So we would urge the Chinese government to take this moment to reach out to the Dalai Lama and engage in a dialogue," he said.