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150 Gather Outside U.N. Office in Beijing

Some 150 Chinese seeking action from their government on various grievances demonstrated outside a United Nations office in Beijing on Saturday while U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited China.
( [email protected] ) May 21, 2006 01:21 PM EDT

BEIJING - Some 150 Chinese seeking action from their government on various grievances demonstrated outside a United Nations office in Beijing on Saturday while U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited China.

About a hundred uniformed and plainclothes police kept the demonstrators away from the gates of the building that houses the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

Most protesters were unaware that Annan was in China. The secretary-general did not know about the protest, U.N. officials said. Annan, who arrived in Beijing on Friday, was traveling in the countryside on Saturday.

Police prevented the protesters from marching to the main U.N. compound two blocks away, and with cajoling and mild force put most of the protesters on a bus, ending the protest.

The protesters are among thousands of Chinese who swarm into Beijing seeking help in resolving long-standing grievances with local officials back home. Usually ignored, they have increasingly turned up outside U.N. offices and the U.S. ambassador's residence, hoping international intervention will succeed where their government has failed.

During a meeting on Friday, Annan and President Hu Jintao discussed the standoff over Iran's nuclear aspirations, and called for the resumption of talks over North Korea's nuclear program, the China Daily reported.

Annan also planned to discuss U.N. reforms during the trip. China vehemently opposes Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.

Annan's second five-year term ends on Dec. 31 and Asian and African nations — who comprise the majority of U.N. members — agree his successor should be an Asian.

During his four-day trip to China, Annan also is to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao, tour the main stadium for the 2008 Olympics and deliver a speech at Peking University.

Annan earlier visited South Korea and Japan. After China, he plans to visit Vietnam and Thailand.

Beijing has organized multiple rounds of six-nation negotiations over the North Korea's nuclear program.

An agreement last year laid down a set of principles for verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has boycotted further talks since November over opposition to U.S. financial restrictions against its alleged currency counterfeiting and other illicit activities.

Along with China and North Korea, the six nations involved in the talks are the United States, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

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