Bush Relays US Concerns Over Tibet in Call to China's President
By Scott Stearns
26 March 2008
President Bush telephoned Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday to talk about Tibet, Taiwan, and North Korea. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley says President Bush expressed his concern about the violence in Tibet and encouraged the Chinese government to resume talks with representatives of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
"The president pushed very hard on the need to be concerned about violence in Tibet, the need for restraint, the need for consultations with representatives of the Dalai Lama," he said.
Beijing blames the Dalai Lama for orchestrating the violence and says rioters are responsible for the deaths of at least 20 civilians. Tibetan exile groups say at least 140 people were killed when Chinese police used force to stop rallies earlier this month marking the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
White House officials say President Bush pressed the Chinese leader to allow journalists to return to the area. Chinese authorities escorted 26 reporters to the Tibetan capital Wednesday for a tightly-controlled media tour.
The Dalai Lama welcomed the visit by journalists and expressed hope that they would be given complete freedom to understand, as he put it, the "real situation in Tibet," which Beijing has claimed as part of China since 1951.
National Security Adviser Hadley says President Bush and President Hu also discussed this past Saturday's elections in Taiwan.
"The Taiwanese election presents an opportunity to encourage China to reach out to Taiwan and to try to resolve differences, and the president did not want to let that go by," he said.
In a statement congratulating the people of Taiwan, President Bush said he is confident that democracy on the island will advance Taiwan as a prosperous, secure and well-governed society.
He again called on both Taiwan and Beijing to refrain from unilateral action to alter the current situation, saying peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the welfare of the people of Taiwan are of profound importance to the United States.
Hadley says President Bush thanked President Hu for the important role China has played in multi-lateral efforts to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. The two vowed to continue working together to urge North Korea to deliver a full declaration of its nuclear program as promised.
The White House says President Bush also expressed his concern that the military regime in Burma intends to hold a referendum that was drafted without input from democratic or ethnic minority groups. Mr. Bush discussed with Mr. Hu the need for Burmese leaders to make changes to the referendum process to make it free, fair, and credible to the Burmese people and the international community.
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