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Dalai Lama pleads for 'world community' to resolve Tibet crisis

March 31, 2008

BEIJING, March 29, 2008  (AFP) — Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama urged the "world community" Saturday to help end the turmoil
in his homeland, following renewed calls from world leaders for talks
with Beijing.

He did so hours after foreign diplomats demanded unfettered access in
Lhasa after authorities allowed them to visit the riot-torn city, more
than two weeks after anti-Chinese protests there ended in bloodshed.

"We have no power except justice, truth, sincerity... that is why I
appeal to the world community to please help," the Dalai Lama told a
news conference in New Delhi.

"I am here helpless, I just pray," said the spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 from Tibet after a failed
uprising against Chinese rule, renewed calls for a dialogue with China's
leaders to end the unrest, saying: "My side is open... we are waiting."

His appeal for world help came a day after US President George W. Bush
for the first time publicly pressed China to hold talks with
representatives of the spiritual leader after raising concerns about the
situation in Tibet.

The Nobel Laureate Dalai Lama, who won the Peace Prize in 1989 for
leading a non-violent struggle for the liberation of his Himalayan
nation, reiterated he was "fully committed" to China hosting the
Olympics in August.

But the 72-year-old added it was important "to remind the Chinese that
in order to be respected hosts of the Games" human rights in Tibet must

The unrest in Tibet began on March 10 to mark the anniversary of a
failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, the event that saw the Dalai
Lama flee to India where he has since lived in exile.

Unrest erupted into widespread rioting in Lhasa on March 14, and spread
to neighbouring Chinese provinces populated by Tibetans.

Beijing says rioters killed 18 innocent civilians and two police
officers during the unrest.

Exiled Tibetan leaders have put the death toll from the Chinese
crackdown at between 135 and 140, with another 1,000 people injured and
many detained.

On Saturday, diplomats from 15 embassies, including those of the United
States, Britain, France and Japan, arrived in the Tibetan capital for a
hastily arranged one-day tour.

They visited the Jokhang Temple, one of Tibetan Buddhism's most sacred
shrines, where monks converged on a tightly government-managed foreign
media tour Wednesday and denounced Chinese rule, one Western diplomat in
Beijing told AFP after being briefed on the trip.

"The chairman of Tibet reassured them (diplomats) that the monks would
not be punished" for their Wednesday protest, the diplomat said.

"This visit is a good first step, but does not go far enough to meet the
request for unfettered access," he said.

"Obviously this has been a highly managed visit."

Upon arrival to Lhasa Friday evening, the diplomats met the chairman of
Tibet's government Qiangba Puncog, visited wounded paramilitary police
in hospital and chatted with ordinary Tibetans, the diplomat added.

China announced the trip late Thursday night -- allowing the diplomats
only hours to prepare for the long flight to Lhasa -- as an
international uproar over Beijing's crackdown on the Himalayan region raged.

At the start of two days of talks in Slovenia on Friday, EU foreign
ministers were split on the idea of boycotting the Beijing Olympics
opening ceremony over Tibet, but keen for China to open talks with the
Dalai Lama.

President George W. Bush's administration has steadfastly opposed a
boycott, instead urging China to act with restraint against protesters
in Tibet and to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

As China's clampdown escalated, so too has the response of the outside

Following a meeting with Bush in Washington late Friday, Australian
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also called on Beijing to enter talks with the
Dalai Lama, while hitting out at China's rights abuses in Tibet.

"It's absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet.
That's clear cut," Rudd said.

"We need to be up front and absolutely straight about what's going on.
Shouldn't shilly-shally about it."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said she opposed boycotting
the Beijing Olympics over China's actions in Tibet in order to avoid
insulting the Chinese people.
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