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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet group decries politics behind postponed Dalai Lama visit

August 22, 2008

By Leland Baxter-Neal,
Tico Times
August 21, 2008

The organizers of a visit by the Dalai Lama to Costa Rica claimed
yesterday that President Oscar Arias asked them to "uninvite" the
exiled Tibetan leader because of conflicts with China.

Arias' spokeswoman Mishelle Mitchel, however, "categorically" denied
the allegations.

The Arias administration is planning to receive the president of
China, Hu Jintao, later this year in his first visit here since the
two nations began diplomatic relations last year. The Chinese
government has called the Dalai Lama a terrorist, and accused him of
attempting to destabilize China.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, preaches
non-violence and calls for greater autonomy for his homeland of
Tibet, which China controls and claims as its own.

At a press conference yesterday, President Arias said he asked the
Dalai Lama to postpone his visit because he would be out of the
country on a trip to Europe and wanted to be here to greet the leader.

The Dalai Lama was originally coming to Costa Rica to take part in a
meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, which include both himself
and President Arias, organized here by the President's Oscar Arias
Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. That meeting was called off
earlier this year.

The Tibetan-Costa Rican Cultural Association then continued to plan
for a visit from the Dalai Lama Sept. 10 to 12, scheduling a meeting
between him and Tibetan Buddhists in Costa Rica, as well as a talk
open to the public.

According to Maritza Pacheco, head of the cultural association, Oscar
Arias' office called the association earlier this month to ask them
to cancel the invite because, among other reasons, "Hu Jintao wasn't
going to come if His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) came."

"This was not an official visit. We had not asked the government for
anything. It was all being managed as a private visit," Pacheco said.
"As a country we are losing our sovereignty if we cannot decide who visits us."

Last night, however, Arias' spokeswoman Mitchell said she could not
officially confirm any call from the president's office, and insisted
the president's letter, which he made public yesterday, asked only to
postpone the trip and had nothing to do with Jintao's visit.
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