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Uighur leader no 'terrorist': Australia

Australia has rejected Chinese objections over a visit by exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, saying she is not a "terrorist" and there is no reason to exclude her.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 17:58 IST

Australia has rejected Chinese objections over a visit by exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, saying she is not a "terrorist" and there is no reason to exclude her.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Kadeer had been given a visa for next week's visit, during which she will launch a documentary about her life and meet members of Australia's Uighur community.

"This will be, I think, her third private visit," Smith told Sky News late Thursday.

"We have no evidence or information that she's a terrorist and so she has been granted a visa in accordance with our usual immigration procedures."

China has called Kadeer's World Uighur Congress a separatist terrorist movement and accused the group of directing deadly unrest this month in the Xinjiang regional capital Urumqi, which left at least 197 people dead.

China has already complained to Australia over the visit.

"Rebiya Kadeer is a criminal," the Chinese embassy in Canberra said, according to The Australian newspaper.

"Facts have indicated that the violent crime on July 5 in Urumqi was instigated, masterminded and directed by the World Uighur Congress headed by Rebiya."

Kadeer, 62, said this week in Japan that nearly 10,000 people "disappeared" during the Xinjiang unrest, either killed or detained, prompting an angry Beijing to summon the Japanese ambassador in protest.

Smith said he had no plans to meet Kadeer, who lives in the United States, and declined to join her call for a United Nations investigation into the ethnic clashes.

He insisted that relations with key trade partner China, already under strain after this month's detention of a mining executive in Shanghai, would not be affected.

"We continue to make our points to the Chinese authorities, publicly and privately, on particular issues," Smith said.

"We have a very important and good relationship with China, but from time to time on issues we differ and Rebiya Kadeer coming to Australia is one of those issues.

"But our relationship will sustain that... That is part and parcel of the relationship."

Kadeer is expected to address the National Press Club in Canberra by video link next Tuesday ahead of her arrival in Australia the following day.

She will attend the August 11 launch in Melbourne of "10 Conditions of Love", which China tried to have withdrawn from the city's film festival. Two Chinese directors pulled their movies in protest.

Meanwhile Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai described the arrest of Australian Rio Tinto mining executive Stern Hu on spying charges as an "isolated" case that would not hurt relations.

Hu and three Chinese colleagues were arrested on July 5 and are accused of stealing state secrets by bribing steel mill officials during tough iron ore negotiations.

"The Stern Hu case is an isolated case," Zhang told the Australian Financial Review.

"I do not see any damage ... to bilateral relations and hope relevant sides will approach it in a rational way."

Rapidly expanding China has fuelled a boom in Australia's resources sector in recent years, with bilateral trade worth 58 billion US dollars in 2008.