Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tibetan Envoys See Little Progress in China Talks

BEIJING, July 5 -- Envoys for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, said Saturday that their meetings with Chinese officials last week were so disappointing that they could not even get the Chinese to agree to issue a joint statement committing both sides to further talks.
Tibet advocates are now urging leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations to raise concerns about the fate of Tibetans who participated in widespread protests this spring against Chinese rule with Chinese President Hu Jintao at an outreach meeting in Hokkaido, Japan, this week.

"We had hoped that the Chinese leadership would reciprocate our efforts by taking tangible steps during this round. On the contrary, due to their excessive concern about legitimacy, the Chinese side even failed to agree to our proposal of issuing a joint statement with the aim of committing both parties to the dialogue process," the envoys, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, said in a statement issued in Dharmsala, India, where the Dalai Lama's administration in exile is based.

Chinese officials were quoted in state-controlled media on Thursday as saying that the Dalai Lama must prove he does not support activities that would disturb the Olympic Games next month in Beijing and to "concretely curb" violent activities of groups advocating for Tibet's independence. The Dalai Lama has often said he supports Beijing's hosting of the Olympics and rejects violence, and that he is advocating for autonomy, not independence for Tibet.

The Chinese offered to meet again in October, and the Tibetan envoys said they accepted the offer. "The Chinese side expressed the view that the dialogue process has been productive and that we need to keep in mind that a half-a-century-old issue of great complexity cannot be resolved in a matter of years," the statement said.
"The talks this time were disappointing, and no breakthrough was achieved at a critical time, when the international community expected progress in the buildup to the Olympics," said Kate Saunders, spokeswoman for the International Campaign for Tibet, based in Washington. "It seems that hardliners in Tibet are fixed upon a failed policy in Tibet and blocking an achievable solution."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said last week that he would announce during the G-8 meetings whether to attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony based on progress in the Tibet talks. The White House announced Friday that President Bush would attend the opening ceremony on Aug. 8.

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