(AFP) – Oct 30, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States on Thursday called on China to review its policies that it said had raised tensions in Tibet, ahead of talks in Beijing between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese officials.
Two envoys of the Dalai Lama headed to China Thursday for talks on the future of Tibet, just days after the Tibetan spiritual leader said he saw no hope in the current dialogue with Beijing.
The United States "encourage China to examine policies that have created tensions due to their effect on Tibetan culture, religion and livelihoods," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said.
Washington also wanted China to improve access to Tibetan areas for journalists, diplomats and other international observers, he said.
Duguid was explaining the US position over a meeting the Dalai Lama has called with exiled Tibetans next month amid pressure for the 73-year-old leader to take a harder line with Beijing.
China launched a crackdown in Tibet following violent protests against Beijing's rule in March. The Dalai Lama has demanded "meaningful autonomy" in Tibet.
"It has been our longstanding and consistent view that the most appropriate and productive means of dealing with the difficult issue of Tibet is through serious, substantive dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama's representatives," Duguid said.
"In order for the dialogue to be meaningful, both parties must be genuinely committed to the process," he said. "We and others around the world will continue to look to these talks to result in concrete progress."
The Dalai Lama said last weekend that he had "faith and trust" in the Chinese people, but that his "faith and trust in the Chinese government is diminishing".
The Dalai Lama has long championed a "middle path" policy with China which espouses "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence for the remote Himalayan region that many younger, more radical activists demand.
The future of that policy will be the focus of a special meeting in the Indian hillstation of Dharamshala -- the seat of the Tibetan government in exile -- of around 300 delegates representing the worldwide exiled Tibetan community next month.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.
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