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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Everest Olympic road work begins
Mount Everest lies on the border between Tibet and Nepal
China has begun work to surface an unmade road leading to the base camp of Mount Everest on the Tibetan side of the world's highest mountain.

The project to pave the 108km (67 mile) road is being done to ease the Olympic torch's journey to the summit next year, Xinhua news agency reports.

The torch will pass through en route to Beijing for the 2008 summer games.

Chinese media say the new road will also assist the growing number of tourists travelling to base camp.

The four-month-long project will cost 150m yuan ($20m), according to Xinhua.

The Olympic flame is due to be carried through 20 cities in five continents on its journey from Olympia in Greece to Beijing next year.

The world's highest mountain, Everest, straddles the border between Tibet and Nepal.

The path through Tibet may trigger protests from critics of Beijing's rule. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, lives in exile in India.

Four US activists were arrested on Everest in April after unfurling a banner calling for Tibet's independence as Chinese climbers were carrying out relay assessments.

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