Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dalai Lama envoy urges China to suggest way forward

China must suggest ways to break a deadlock in talks on Tibet or the Dalai Lama's representatives will assume Beijing is not interested in a negotiated solution, an envoy of the exiled spiritual leader said on Wednesday.
The last round of talks between China and envoys of the Dalai Lama failed in November when Chinese officials rejected their calls for "high-level autonomy" for Tibet.
Premier Wen Jiabao said last month that China was open to more talks as long as the Dalai Lama renounced what Beijing describes as separatism.
Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's envoy to Europe, said the Dalai Lama's negotiators had put their proposals on the table at the last meeting in the form of a memorandum that Beijing rejected.
"If there is any seriousness and political will on the part of the Chinese government, the ball is now in their court," Gyaltsen, who took part in the negotiations with China, told reporters during a visit to London.
"They have now either to come up with their own suggestions for a way forward or we have to assume that the Chinese government is not interested in ... finding a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue with the Tibetans," he said.
However, he said the Dalai Lama's envoys had not yet reached this conclusion. "The time (since November) is too short. Let's see," he said.
He urged European governments to take a common position on Tibet that was "clear and strong".
Gyaltsen said China's increasing influence in the world made the Tibet issue more, rather than less, important.
"It's important to the Chinese government what the outside world thinks about China. So ... today's members of the international community have more leverage to influence ... the Chinese leadership than 20 years back," he said.
Because of Tibet's potential for social instability, foreign governments interested in China's peaceful development also had an interest in the Tibet issue being solved, he said.
Protests by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in March last year led to the deaths of 19 people and sparked waves of protests in Tibetan areas. Tibetan exiles say more than 200 people died in the crackdown.
Meeting in Dharamsala, India, last November, Tibetan exiles reaffirmed their commitment to the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach which abandons the goal of an independent Tibet in favour of seeking greater autonomy within China.
Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama fled the mountainous region in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

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