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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet overshadows Chinese leader Hu Jintao's US visit

January 24, 2011

Belfast Telegraph, Thursday, 20 January 2011

As President Obama welcomed Hu Jintao of China to the White House
yesterday with pledges of a new era of co-operation between their
countries, he punctured the pomp of an opening ceremony on the south
lawn with a pointed reminder of the world's dismay at Beijing's
reluctant record on human rights.

Mr Obama specifically raised Tibet at a Press conference saying that
while the US recognises it is a part of Chinese territory, it is urging
Beijing to engage in fresh talks “to resolve concerns and differences
including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity” of
the Tibetan people.

“We have some core views as Americans about the universality of certain
rights that we think are very important, that transcend cultures. I have
been very candid with President Hu about these |issues,” he said.

The comments came after Mr Obama and President Hu stood alongside each
other on a podium as a 21-gun salute marked the start of an intricately
choreographed formal visit by the Chinese leader that was to culminate
with a star-studded state dinner last night.

Barely had the day's serious business begun, including talks between the
two heads of state, than the White House was |unveiling a $45bn (£28bn)
new export agreement with China that it said would protect 235,000
American jobs.

But while Mr Obama was already going further than his predecessor,
George Bush, to accord Mr Hu full honours in Washington — last night's
occasion was to be the first state dinner for a Chinese leader in 13
years — there could be no ignoring the gaps between them on human rights.

While Mr Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mr Hu leads a country that
has this year's |winner of the prize, Liu Xiaobo, behind bars.

Saying that he saw his visit as an opportunity to “open a new chapter in
co-operation as partners”, President Hu also sharpened the atmosphere by
serving notice that China and America will not see eye to eye on
everything and that the two countries should exercise “mutual respect”
of each other's positions.
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