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Dalai Lama Willing to Meet With Chinese Leaders

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
20 March 2008

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he is willing to discuss the crisis in Tibet with top Chinese leaders. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, his India-based government in exile says the situation in the region continues to be tense.

The Dalai Lama says he is ready to travel to China to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao, if there are concrete indications that Beijing is interested in talks on Tibet.

He spoke in the north Indian town of Dharamsala, where his government-in-exile is based.

Wednesday, he called for world leaders to lobby China for talks on Tibet. But he admitted the prospect of engaging China in talks is not practical until the protests in the region die down.

Peaceful protests by Buddhist monks in Tibet snowballed into violence last week, prompting a crackdown by Chinese authorities in the remote mountain region.

Human rights groups and the exiled Tibetan community accuse Chinese authorities of widespread repression, and say there is deep resentment against Chinese rule.

The prime minister of the exiled Tibetan administration, Samdhong Rinpoche, said the People's Republic of China is not responding to calls by the international community to handle the crisis in Tibet with restraint.

"Our problem is the PRC authorities are not sensitive to the voice of the international community," said Rinpoche. "So that is the problem. I hope now the international organizations, governments and institutions would take positive steps, effective steps to put an end to the ongoing violence inside Tibet."

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said Tuesday Beijing is willing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama, but only if he gives up what China describes as a campaign for Tibetan independence. Beijing has blamed him for the unrest in Tibet - a charge the Dalai Lama strongly denies.

The Dalai Lama says he fears there may be a lot of casualties in Tibet, and said many places there have been "cut off".

Prime Minister in exile, Rinpoche, says the situation in Tibet is tense, according to information the exile community based in India has gathered from those inside the remote, Himalayan region.

"The present situation in Lhasa is very gloomy, and since Sunday night more than 800 people are arrested ands taken away," he said. "People are transported by some unknown destination by airlift and road transportation. The situation so tense. "

The Dalai Lama has led a non-violent campaign for more autonomy for Tibet, which China has ruled since 1951, and says its unique culture and tradition need to be protected.

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