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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?"

US urges China to talk to Dalai Lama as concern grows over Tibet

March 18, 2008

MOSCO, March 17, 2008 (AFP) — US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on
Monday called on China to open talks with the Dalai Lama amid mounting
international unease over China's crackdown on protests in Tibet.

The Netherlands summoned the Chinese ambassador to express concern and
the European Union also said it was troubled, but Russia insisted the
Tibet crisis was an "internal matter" for China.

Rice renewed a US appeal for China to show restraint in Tibet saying
there was now a "terrible situation".

"We have really urged the Chinese over several years to find a way to
talk with the Dalai Lama, who is a figure of authority, who is not a
separatist, and to find a way to engage him and bring his moral weight
to a more sustainable and better solution of the Tibet issue."

"There has been a kind of missed opportunity here for the Chinese to
engage the moral authority of the Tibetan people," she told reporters as
she headed for a visit to Moscow.

China refuses to hold negotiations with the Nobel Peace prize winning
Dalai Lama, who they accuse of separatist activities.

Tibet's exiled leaders have said about 100 people have been killed in
the crackdown on anti-Chinese protests. China said Monday that the
protests had claimed 13 civilian lives and denied using deadly force.

The impact of the unrest has grown with the Beijing Olympics to be held
in August.

Russia insisted that China's relations with the Dalai Lama were "an
internal matter" for China and criticised attempts to "politicise"
Beijing's hosting of the Games.

"We hope that Chinese authorities will take all necessary measures to
counter illegal activities and guarantee a rapid normalisation of the
situation in the autonomous region," said a Russian foreign ministry
statement.

The ministry added that "attempts at politicising the holding of the
2008 Olympic Games in China are unacceptable."

The European Union also opposed a Games boycott over Tibet.

"We are very concerned by the events in Tibet and we are calling for
restraint on all sides," the EU commission's external relations
spokeswoman said.

But the spokeswoman added that "a boycott would not be the appropriate
way to address the work for respect of human rights, which means the
ethnic and religious rights, of the Tibetans."

The influential Australian Olympic Committee said it also does not
support a boycott.

But French Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande said France must
"consider" withdrawing its athletes. "It is the least we can do,"
Hollande told French radio. "I am not saying that this would be the
solution but we must use every arm and all kinds of international pressure."

China risks wrecking its international image as the Olympic host if the
Tibet violence escalates, Britain's Minister for Africa, Asia and the
United Nations, Mark Malloch-Brown, warned.

China has to "understand the consequences of escalation in terms of the
damage to (its) international standing, and the damage to this event,
the Olympics, that they've invested so much in, financially but also
morally," he told BBC television.

"This is China's coming out party, and they should take great care to do
nothing that will wreck that," he said.

Political pressure grew on China over the unrest.

India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile, called for a "non-violent"
solution to the troubles.

"We are distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in
Lhasa and by the deaths of innocent people," Indian Foreign Minister
Pranab Mukherjee told parliament.

Mukherjee insisted the unrest must be ended "through dialogue and
non-violent means," while Indian opposition politicians demanded a
stronger stand on the issue.

The Dalai Lama's exiled government has been based in the northern Indian
hill town of Dharamsala since a failed uprising in 1959.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called the Tibet violence
"disturbing". Rudd, who speaks fluent Mandarin and is to meet China's
leaders in Beijing next month, said Australia has expressed its views to
China on the crackdown.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark urged China to react "carefully
and proportionately" to the unrest. Clark has denied that her response
has been muted by plans for New Zealand to sign a free trade deal with
China next month.
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