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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."

Dalai Lama pleads for peaceful dialogue on Tibet

March 31, 2008

March 29, 2008

(CNN) -- The Dalai Lama Friday rejected a series of allegations from the
Chinese government, saying he does not seek the separation of Tibet and
has no desire to "sabotage" the Olympic games.

Issuing a statement while traveling in New Delhi, India, the spiritual
leader of Tibetan Buddhists called on China "to exercise wisdom and to
initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan people."

Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for violence that
erupted amid protests for Tibetan independence earlier this month, but
China has drawn international criticism for its crackdown on the
protests that began peacefully.

President Bush said Friday he "urged restraint" during a phone
conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this week, and
noted "that it's in his country's interest" for the government to have
representatives "sit down again with representatives of the Dalai Lama."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, appearing with Bush at the White
House, also called for meetings between the two sides.

"It's absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet.
That's clear-cut. We need to be up-front and absolutely straight about
what's going on. Shouldn't shilly-shally about it," Rudd said.

Tibet's government in exile has said the death toll from the protests
has reached about 140 over the past two weeks, but China's government
restrictions have made it difficult to confirm that number.

Chinese authorities put the death toll at 19 and said most of those
killed were "innocent victims" -- Han Chinese targeted by Tibetans.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events. I
am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the victims and
their families and pray for them," the Dalai Lama said in his written
statement Friday.

He added that there is an "urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually
beneficial solution through dialogue. Even at this juncture I have
expressed my willingness to the Chinese authorities to work together to
bring about peace and stability."

He noted repeatedly that he is not a "separatist."

"Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek
Tibet's separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the
Tibetan and Chinese peoples," he wrote.

Instead, protesters seek "meaningful self-rule" while remaining a part
of China, he added.

And, he said, "despite my repeated support for the Beijing Olympics, the
Chinese authorities, with the intention of creating a rift between the
Chinese people and myself, the Chinese authorities assert that I am
trying to sabotage the games."

The protests -- which began on the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan
uprising -- have threatened to overshadow Beijing's role as host of the
Summer Olympic Games in August.

In his statement, the Dalai Lama complained the Chinese state-run
media's coverage "of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and
distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with
unpredictable long-term consequences. This is of grave concern to me."

China's state-run media, however, have accused some Western news
agencies -- including CNN -- of distorting coverage of the riots to make
China look bad and the protesters look like innocent victims.

A headline Friday on the English Web site of China's official Xinhua
news agency read "'Anti-CNN' Web site reflects Chinese people's
condemnation." The article offered a link to a site in which Chinese
bloggers criticize CNN's coverage.

In a statement, CNN said, "We have provided comprehensive coverage of
all sides of this story," adding that the network's "reputation is based
on reporting global news accurately and impartially." Read the full

Earlier this week, China offered some media organizations -- not
including CNN -- a carefully managed tour of Tibet's capital, but ran
into a public-relations roadblock when a group of Buddhist monks began
screaming protests at a holy shrine.
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