Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng said Sunday he remained in aBeijing hospital but had asked government officials to help him apply to go abroad, after a deal between China and the United States.

"Now I have notified the hospital to invite them (government officials) to help me do the procedures. I really don't have a way," he told AFP in a brief telephone interview.

He added his injuries and limits on his movements by authorities had largely confined him to bed, making it difficult to leave the hospital to carry out the necessary procedures to leave the country.

Chen, 40, a self-taught lawyer, is at the centre of a major diplomatic wrangle between China and the US after he dramatically escaped house arrest in the eastern province of Shandong and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.

The activist was escorted to the Beijing hospital by US officials on Wednesday after being holed up inside the embassy for six days and said he wanted to leave China for his safety.

China's foreign ministry said on Friday that he would be allowed to apply to study abroad, signalling then-visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had secured a deal with the Chinese government.

He is currently being treated for foot injuries sustained during his escape from house arrest. Speaking from his hospital bed, Chen said his foot was in a plaster cast.

His friends, he added, had been barred from visiting and US diplomats had only been allowed to see his wife, who was with him in the hospital.

"It's even difficult for me to get out of bed and my other friends cannot come, so I have no way," he said.

"They (US diplomats) have come, but they can't see me."

Friends of the dissident, who exposed forced abortions, told AFP that Chen was preparing to go to the United States and might leave soon though his departure would depend on the Chinese government.

Jerome Cohen, a New York University professor who is a friend and adviser to Chen, said he may go to the United States "soon".

"It's conceivable he could be here quite soon," Cohen told AFP by telephone from his US home.

"I'm hoping it's a done deal. I was very excited when I saw the announcement by the (Chinese) foreign ministry spokesman on Friday afternoon," he said.

"That's an open signal that they are prepared to let him come abroad for a period of study," said Cohen, who spoke to Chen twice before he left the US embassy but not since.

A spokesman for New York University said Friday that Chen had been invited to study there.