US Urges China to Use Restraint in Tibet
By Meredith Buel
20 March 2008
The United States has called on China to use restraint against protesters in Tibet and to hold talks with the country's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi Wednesday evening to discuss the crisis in Tibet.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Rice used the 20-minute phone call to restate U.S. policy.
"She reiterated our call for restraint on the part of the Chinese government when they are dealing with protesters in these areas. Violence does not serve anybody's purposes," he said.
McCormack says Rice also urged her Chinese counterpart to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.
"The Chinese government should engage with the Dalai Lama in a dialogue," he said. "He is a man of peace. He is a man of reconciliation. We have been calling for this for sometime. Certainly, now would be as appropriate a time as ever for that dialog to take place."
China is accusing the Dalai Lama of orchestrating protests that erupted into riots last week in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, a charge he denies.
Tibet's government in exile says about 100 people died in the protests, although Beijing says rioters killed 13 civilians.
China is acknowledging that protests have spread from Tibet to neighboring Chinese provinces.
The Dalai Lama is offering to discuss the situation in Tibet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
China says the spiritual leader must renounce violence and not support independence for Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has said repeatedly he only wants autonomy for Tibet under Chinese sovereignty.
Some international human rights groups and Tibetan activists are calling for officials and dignitaries to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics, to be held in Beijing next August.
President Bush is scheduled to attend the games and the White House says his plans have not changed.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the Olympics present an opportunity for China.
"We view this as a significant international sporting event," said McCormack. "We are going to treat it as such. We would also encourage China to make use of the fact that the world is watching the Olympics and this important international event to put its best face forward, not only during the Olympics, but in the run-up to as well as after the Olympics."
McCormack says the United States has requested access to Tibet to make an assessment of what is happening there.
McCormack says so far the Chinese government has not granted the request.
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