Tibetan Protesters Scale Walls of U.N. Compound in Nepal, Muslim Quarter Closed in Lhasa

A group of about 20 protesting Tibetan exiles scaled the walls of the United Nations compound in Katmandu on Friday, while about 100 others protested outside.

Police arrested 60 of the protesters outside the compound, dragging them away to waiting vehicles. The others dispersed.

Nepal has been under criticism for not allowing the Tibetans to peacefully protest a crackdown on Tibetans in neighboring China. Nepal's border with China in the Himalayas is a key route for Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule in the region.

The protesters who made it inside the U.N. compound were not immediately detained. They were waiting in a conference room inside the building, said a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.

Police at the scene also refused to comment.

Reporters and photographers were not allowed inside the compound, but saw the protesters waving flags and banners while being taken to the conference room by U.N. officials.

Nepalese police surrounded the compound. One police official went inside and asked for the protesters to be handed over, but U.N. officials refused.

Thousands of Tibetan refugees live with relatives in Nepal or in camps funded by aid groups. Most of the refugees eventually move to India, where Tibet's government-in-exile and its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are based.

Meanwhile in China's Tibetan capital of Lhasa police closed off the Muslim quarter on Friday, two weeks after Tibetan rioters burned down the city's mosque amid the largest anti-Chinese protests in nearly two decades.

Officers blockaded streets into the area, allowing in only residents and worshippers observing the Muslim day of prayer. A heavy security presence lingered in other parts of Lhasa's old city as cleanup crews waded through the destruction inflicted when days of initially peaceful protests turned deadly on March 14.

Tibetans torched hundreds of buildings and attacked members of China's dominant Han ethnic group and Chinese Muslims known as Hui, who have dominated commerce in the city.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, raised concerns Friday that China's portrayal of the protests in Lhasa was fanning the flames of ethnic conflict.

"The state media's portrayal of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with unpredictable long-term consequences. This is of grave concern to me," he said in a statement from his headquarters in northern India.

The protests were the longest and most-sustained challenge to China's rule in the Himalayan region since 1989. The ensuing crackdown by Chinese authorities has focused international attention on China's human rights record in the run-up to the Olympic Games.

President Bush and Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, urged China's leaders to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

"It is absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet. It's clear-cut; we need to be upfront and absolutely straight about what's going on," Rudd told reporters after he met with Bush at the White House.

Urging restraint, Bush said he told Chinese President Hu Jintao this week that "it's in his country's interest" that top Chinese leaders meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Foreign ministers from the European Union's 27 countries met in Slovenia to debate an EU response amid suggestions they consider boycotting the Olympics' opening ceremony to protest Beijing's crackdown in Tibet.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who drew China's ire for her recent visit with the Dalai Lama, said Friday it would be wrong to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

While the Chinese government has failed to live up to its commitment to improve human rights conditions in China and Tibet, "I believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would unfairly harm our athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the competition," she said in a statement.

Apparently in response to the international pressure, China is allowing a group of foreign diplomats to visit Lhasa on Friday and Saturday. A U.S. diplomat will be on that trip, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson. She had no other details.

A small group of foreign journalists, including an Associated Press reporter, was taken to Lhasa on a three-day government-organized trip that ends Friday.

The otherwise tightly scripted visit was disrupted when 30 red-robed monks pushed into a government briefing at the Jokhang Temple Thursday, complaining of a lack of religious freedom and denouncing official claims the Dalai Lama orchestrated the March 14 violence.

"What the government is saying is not true," one monk shouted.

"They killed many people. They killed many people," another monk said, referring to Chinese security forces.

The outburst by the monks lasted for about 15 minutes before government officials ended it and told the journalists it was "time to go."

China has strenuously argued that the widespread arson and looting were criminal acts orchestrated by separatists, while refusing to discuss the root causes of the anger and alienation blamed for sparking the violence.

A vice governor of Tibet, Baima Chilin, later told reporters the monks would not be punished.

However, Tibet activists on Friday voiced concern over possible Chinese government retaliation against the monks.

"There are serious fears for the welfare and whereabouts" of the monks, the International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.

"The monks' peaceful protest shattered the authorities' plans to convey an image that the situation in Lhasa was under control after recent demonstrations and rioting," it said.

Other than the incident at the Jokhang, one of Tibetan Buddhism's holiest shrines, most of the second day of the tour went according to plan, with officials sticking to the government line that the most violent anti-Chinese protests in nearly two decades were plotted by supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has denied the accusations and threatened to resign as head of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile if the violence continued.

The government says at least 22 people have died in Lhasa; Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed, including 19 in Gansu province.