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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?"

Indian envoys refuse to join conducted tour of Tibet

March 31, 2008

The Times of India
29 Mar 2008

BEIJING: A group of Beijing-based diplomats from several countries left
for Tibet on a conducted tour on Friday morning but, despite an
invitation from the Chinese government, there was no Indian envoy
accompanying them.

Sources in the Indian government cited the short notice given by the
Chinese as one of the reasons for not taking up the invitation.

They denied a suggestion that India may be boycotting the Tibet tour in
reaction to Chinese authorities summoning ambassador Nirupama Rao for
talks at 2am last Friday.

The Indian government also felt there wasn't much inside knowledge to be
gained by joining a highly controlled trip to Tibet.

Indian officials were contacted at 11am on Thursday and asked to confirm
by 4pm the same day whether any diplomat from India would like to join
the trip. Envoys from the US, Japan and European countries left for
Lhasa on Friday morning.

The tour by diplomats, organised by the Chinese foreign ministry,
follows another move by the government to take a band of selected
journalists to Lhasa.

The purpose is to persuade world governments to see the Lhasa violence
in the way the Chinese government would like it to be seen.

Beijing is deeply worried over remarks from several world leaders,
including French president Nicolas Sarkozy, suggesting they do not fully
accept China's version of the events in Lhasa in the past few weeks.

China is particularly keen on ensuring that there is no boycott of the
Olympic Games owing to Tibet. Sarkozy has already caused a flutter in
Chinese hearts by saying "all options are open'' regarding a possible
boycott of the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics.

Indian officials are trying to talk down the Chinese move to summon Rao
for talks at two am, saying envoys of several other countries too were
called for discussions at late hours in the past two weeks, and no
exception was made in the case of the Indian ambassador.
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