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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."

Dalai Lama's brother dies at the age of 86

September 8, 2008

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Taktser Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother 
who championed independence for Tibet, has died in the United States 
at the age of 86, a spokesman for the Tibetan spiritual leader said 

Rinpoche -- whose given name was Thupten Jigme Norbu -- died late 
Friday at his Indiana home after being unwell for several years, R. 
Chhoekyapa, secretary to the Dalai Lama, told AFP.

"He passed away last night and we informed His Holiness (the Dalai 
Lama) this morning," Chhoekyapa said by telephone from Dharamshala, 
seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India.

"We are all very saddened by the passing," Chhoekyapa said.

News of his death came days after the 73-year-old Dalai Lama was 
released from a Mumbai hospital, where he was treated for abdominal 
pain that stirred alarm about his health among his followers.

Doctors later said there was no reason for concern about the 
spiritual leader's health.

While the brothers were close, they held different views about 
Tibet's future.

The Dalai Lama advocates a "middle path" policy that espouses 
"meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence 
that some activists are seeking.

But Rinpoche, a retired professor of Tibetan studies at Indiana 
University, "wanted nothing but full independence for Tibet. In that, 
he differed from his brother," Chhoekyapa said.

However, "that did not affect his relations with his brother," he said.

Rinpoche, who is survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, and three sons, 
was "devoted" to the Dalai Lama, Chhoekyapa said.

Rinpoche was recognised at the age of three as the reincarnated abbot 
of Kumbum monastery in modern-day Qinghai, one of the most important 
monasteries in Tibet.

As a result, he was already a prominent figure in Tibet's religious 
hierarchy even before the Dalai Lama was born.

"Taktser Rinpoche was deeply mistrustful of the Chinese Communist 
Party's intentions in Tibet," said the Washington-based International 
Campaign for Tibet.

He also "was a prominent voice advising the Dalai Lama to leave Tibet 
in the face of what was perceived as direct threats to his own 
personal safety as well as to the integrity of Tibet itself," the 
group said.

In 1950, when the Dalai Lama was still in Lhasa, Chinese officials 
tried to get Rinpoche to travel to Lhasa and persuade the Dalai Lama 
to accept the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet, according to the group.

Rinpoche agreed to travel to Lhasa to see the Dalai Lama.

But he evaded his Chinese escorts en route and instead conveyed to 
the Dalai Lama his misgivings about China's influence in Tibet, and 
urged the Dalai Lama to travel to the border with India, the 
International Campaign for Tibet said.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed 
uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.

Rinpoche, who in 1979 he founded the Tibetan Cultural Center in 
Indiana, wrote various academic papers and books on Tibet including 
an autobiography, "Tibet Is My Country."

The Dalai Lama now has three siblings who are alive -- two brothers 
and a sister, his secretary said.
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