White House says welcomes Chen's departure for the U.S.

CAMP DAVID, Maryland Sat May 19, 2012 2:44pm EDT

U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (L) talks on a mobile phone as he accompanies blind activist Chen Guangcheng (R) in a car, in Beijing, in this May 2, 2012 file photo. China has allowed blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to leave a hospital in Beijing for the United States, a U.S.-based Christian advocacy group said on May 19, 2012. REUTERS/US Embassy Beijing Press Office/Handout/Files

U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (L) talks on a mobile phone as he accompanies blind activist Chen Guangcheng (R) in a car, in Beijing, in this May 2, 2012 file photo. China has allowed blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to leave a hospital in Beijing for the United States, a U.S.-based Christian advocacy group said on May 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/US Embassy Beijing Press Office/Handout/Files

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CAMP DAVID, Maryland (Reuters) - A senior White House official on Saturday welcomed blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's departure for the United States, and praised diplomatic efforts in both Washington and Beijing that defused a standoff over his status.

"Mr. Chen and his wife and two sons are on the way to the United States. We welcome this development and the fact that he will be able to pursue a course of study here in the United States upon his arrival," said Ben Rhodes of the National Security Council.

"We are pleased that this was able to reach a resolution," Rhodes told reporters during the Group of Eight summit the United States is hosting at Camp David, Maryland.

(Reporting By Jeff Mason; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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