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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China open to Dalai Lama talks

November 17, 2008

Straits Times
November 15, 2008

LONDON - A SENIOR Chinese official said in comments broadcast on Friday that Beijing is open to further talks with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Mr Zhu Weiqun told the BBC that 'China has done everything it can to talk to the Dalai Lama. The door is still open.'

Tibetan representatives and Chinese officials have held several rounds of talks on the disputed territory, with little apparent progress.

Earlier this week Mr Zhu, a vice-minister of the United Front Work Department, blamed the Dalai Lama and his envoys for the talks' failure. In an apparent hardening of Beijing's stance, he said the Tibetan spiritual leader's calls for greater autonomy masked his desire for the Himalayan region's independence.

China insists Tibet has been part of its territory for 700 years, although many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that time. Chinese forces invaded shortly after the 1949 Communist revolution and the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule.

Tibetan exile communities and political organisations are due to meet next week in Dharamsala, India, to map out their future stance toward Beijing.

Mr Zhu welcomed an Oct 29 statement by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband stating that 'like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China'.

Mr Miliband told lawmakers that Britain supported greater autonomy, rather than independence for Tibet and called for the region's 'distinct culture, language, traditions and religions' to be respected.

Mr Zhu said the statement had 'brought the UK into line with the universal position in today's world'. -- AP
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