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Deal nears on China activist Chen as US offers college fellowship

If negotiations are successful, Chen Guangcheng's family will come to the U.S. on a student visa where he would study at NYU. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Updated 08:31 a.m. ET: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "progress had been made" on a deal over the future of Chen Guangcheng, telling reporters in Beijing she was encouraged by China's suggestions that the blind activist might be allowed to study abroad. 

After she spoke, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told Reuters that Chen had been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he could be accompanied by his wife and two children.

"The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Mr. Chen's applications for appropriate travel documents. The United States government expects that the Chinese government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents, and make accommodations for his current medical condition," she added.

"The United States government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention," Nuland said.

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner left, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, right, at a closing ceremony of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing Friday.

Clinton said efforts would continue to finalize an agreement over Chen's future, adding that the U.S. ambassador had visited the dissident in hospital.

"We have been very clear and committed to honoring his choices and our values," Clinton said of Chen.

Signs of a deal will provide relief to both the Obama administration -- which feared the case would overshadow the ongoing economic talks, Clinton's main purpose in China -- and the Chinese, who were reportedly keen to resolve the issue while saving face.

Earlier, Chen told The Associated Press that friends who had tried to visit him “have been beaten,” his wife Yuan Weijing had been followed and U.S. officials had been prevented from seeing him in person.

Carlos Barria, Reuters

A doctor from the U.S. embassy arrives Friday at the Chaoyang Hospital, where blind activist Chen Guangcheng is staying.

He added that he had spoken to U.S. officials by phone, but “the calls keep getting cut off after two sentences.”

“Basically I am very worried. Okay? … It is very dangerous here,” Chen told the AP, before the line went dead.

Chen, 40, is a legal activist from Shandong province who campaigned against forced abortions under China's "one-child" policy.

On April 22, he escaped 19 months of house arrest, during which he and his family faced beatings and threats. Supporters then said he was in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which he left after six days to go to the hospital on Tuesday this week after receiving assurances from the Chinese authorities.

Chinese crackdown on dissident's family and friends

He Peirong, an activist who helped Chen escape from house arrest and drove him to Beijing was released by police Friday. She was taken away by police last Saturday. She tweeted at about 3 a.m. ST that "I'm back, everything is ok, thank you.” She declined to comment to NBC News.

Blind activist Chen Guangcheng: 'I want to leave China on Hillary Clinton's plane'

Lawyer Jiang Tianyong, another of Chen’s friends, was arrested by police Thursday evening and told NBC News Friday afternoon that he had been beaten up. He lost his hearing temporarily and is undergoing a medical check-up now, accompanied by police.

Amid the continuing concern over what will happen to Chen and his supporters, Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met Wen in the pavilion, a ceremonial reception hall in the style of a Chinese pagoda, nestled by pine trees and a lake in the middle of Beijing.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to speak out about Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident who is seeking to travel to the United States. NBC's Ian Williams reports.

"This round of the dialogue is highly productive. I can say we achieved rich fruit in this round and some of those are important breakthroughs,” Wen said, according to a translator.

"What is the secret behind the sustained and the steady growth of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue [formal name for talks between the two countries]? I believe the most important thing is that we respect each other and treat each other as equals and have accommodated each other's major concerns,” he added.

China censors 'Shawshank' as Clinton heads to Beijing amid dissident drama

Clinton's prepared remarks for the meeting did not specifically mention Chen, but did say that the responsibilities of a "great nation" included "protecting the fundamental freedoms of all citizens at home."  

"All governments have the responsibility of addressing their citizens' aspirations for dignity and rule of law.  These are not Western values -- they are universal rights that apply to all people in all places," she said.

Blind activist: Chinese officials threatened my wife

CNBC's John Harwood reports the latest developments in the case of Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng's dramatic plea for help in a cell phone call to Congress.

She also talked about North Korea, Iran, Syria, and the Sudan-South Sudan conflict, describing them as "four hotspots" that "are some of the most pressing challenges we face."

Guo Yushan – who was released by police two days ago after helping Chen get to Beijing -- said in a posting on Twitter that on Chen’s first day in the hospital “some unpleasant things happened, bringing some inconvenience and misery to him and his family, making them feel anxious and nervous.” 

Blind dissident's case a 'hot potato' for US-China relations

“Among all these things, he worried most about the threat from some Shandong officials to his wife Yuan Weijing,” Guo said, according to a translation. “He hopes that, under massive attention from global public opinion, the Chinese government can abide by the law and deal properly with Shandong local officials' illegal persecution on him and his family.”

Guo said that his friend was “very grateful to the world media's attention and care, and hopes that the media can understand his current complex and delicate situation, and completely understand and respond to his expression and the corresponding emotions.”

University of California, Irvine, economics professor Peter Navarro and Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing discuss the latest wrinkle in US-China relations after Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng asked for asylum in America.

“He did not want to make all his friends who helped him, and are helping him, feel embarrassed and have misunderstandings, for example, the U.S. Embassy's help in the past, he never criticized it, on the contrary, he is only grateful for it. Thank you everyone,” Guo said.

Guo declined to comment to NBC News.

Gu Bo, of NBC News, other NBC News staff, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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