Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she is looking forward to welcoming Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to the United States.

We remain in close contact with him, Clinton told CNN during an interview in New Delhi. We know that Chinese officials have visited him in the hospital. ... We're doing the same in order to prepare the way so that he can come here and pursue his studies.

Chen is a 40-year-old blind lawyer and activist who escaped after more than 18 months of house arrest in eastern China about two weeks ago, and sought asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The six-day stay at the embassy catapulted Chen into global headlines and placed him at the center of a diplomatic row between the U.S. and China.

U.S. and Chinese officials have been sorting out a deal for Chen and his family to emigrate to America by way of a university fellowship. New York University has offered Chen a fellowship. He is reportedly working on the necessary paperwork for travel documents for himself and his family.

Authorities in China have denied American officials visits to Chen since May 4. They can, however, contact the activist by telephone.

Chen, a self-schooled legal advocate, campaigned against forced abortions. He was sentenced in 2006 to four years and three months in prison for damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic, according to CNN.