Clinton cites progress in Chinese activist's case

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the closing of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai Guesthouse in Beijing on May 4, 2012.

(CBS/AP) BEIJING - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said progress is being made resolving the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Clinton said she is encouraged by a Chinese government statement that suggested Chen would be allowed to go abroad to study. She says they are working to give Chen the future he wants, and that U.S. Embassy staff was able to meet with him Friday.

Chen, who embroiled the U.S. and China in a diplomatic standoff when he sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy, has said he wants to leave China with his family and his supporters say he would like to study law in the U.S.

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Clinton called the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) "very productive."

"It is a testament to how far we've come to building a resilient relationship and having very candid and open dialogue when we have disagreements," she said. "The U.S. and China have the most consequential relationship of the 21st century - leadership for many years to come. We have to remain engaged and use this platform to pursue mutual respect and benefits that are important to the bilateral relationship, but also for the global relationships as well."

China's top diplomat Dai Bingguo called the talks a "tremendous" success with a candid exchange of views. He said human rights were discussed but there are differences.

"On the issue of human rights, no country can claim to be perfect. China will continue to stay on the right course it has chosen," Dai said.

He repeated China's stance that human rights should not be used as an "excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of countries."

Clinton has urged China to play a responsible role in the world by respecting human rights and helping to deal with challenges posed by Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs and violence in Syria and Sudan and South Sudan.

Clinton specifically implored China to support international efforts to persuade North Korea to end provocative actions, get Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful and end fighting in Syria and two Sudans.

China's President Hu Jintao (right) speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 4, 2012.

"Each of these crises represents a shared challenge to global security, and each provides an opportunity for us to work together more closely to advance our common interests in peace and stability," Clinton said.

China and Russia have balked at adopting tough new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which is continuing a brutal crackdown on its opponents. But Beijing has gone along with a U.N.-backed truce plan, also accepted by Assad, that calls for a cease-fire, international monitors and a political transition.

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"It's critical that the international community — including China and the United States — hold the regime accountable for its commitments," Clinton said in an earlier statement at the talks. "If it continues to refuse, all of us should recognize our responsibility to explore additional steps and resolutions. The credibility of the council is at stake."