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Pro-Tibet activists urge Merkel to raise human rights issues

October 24, 2008

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
October 23, 2008

Beijing - International activist groups urged German Chancellor
Angela Merkel Thursday to raise the issue of Tibet during her visit
to China. "At this critical juncture in relations between Europe and
China, Chancellor Merkel must press Chinese President Hu Jintao for
tangible results from the dialogue between the Dalai Lama's
representatives and Chinese officials," said Kate Saunders of the
London-based International Campaign for Tibet.

Merkel arrived in Beijing Thursday to participate in the Asia Europe
Meeting (ASEM) Summit on Friday and Saturday.

This largest-ever ASEM gathering took place at a time of severe
repression against peaceful dissent in Tibet, Saunders said.

The German chancellor and the other heads of state and government
should press during their talks in Beijing for inclusion of a
reference to the situation in Tibet and the necessity to respect the
rights of Tibetans in the final ASEM statement and declaration, she said.

A new round of dialogue between the Chinese government and
representatives of the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai
Lama, are planned for this year.

Little information is available about the current situation in Tibet,
which had been shaken by anti-Chinese protests in March and April, as
the region as well was surrounding areas populated by ethnic Tibetans
were sealed off by Chinese authorities.

Putting any discussion of Tibet aside at ASEM because of Chinese
sensitivities would run counter to the ASEM agenda, which is to
promote understanding and enhance cooperation through dialogue, Saunders said.

Merkel, who is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on
Thursday and Jintao on Friday, was set to raise human rights issues,
her spokesman said prior to her departure.
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