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Dalai Lama asks US to help on Tibet

April 23, 2008

Al Jazeera
TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2008

The Dalai Lama has asked Washington for help in improving the situation
in Tibet, in the highest level meeting with the US administration since
China's crackdown in his homeland.

"At this moment we need your help," Tibet's exiled spiritual leader told
Paula Dobriansky, the US special envoy on Tibet.

Dobriansky reiterated a US appeal for dialogue between Beijing and the
Dalai Lama.

She said George Bush, the US president, "has been a steadfast supporter
of the need for dialogue between his holiness and Chinese leaders ... we
see a dialogue as an important means and way to go forward".

The Dalai Lama and Dobriansky met in private at the University of
Michigan after he wrapped up a weekend of lectures there.

They addressed reporters briefly before entering a room for discussions
holding hands.

Dobriansky said the administration "has expressed its concern about the
situation in Tibet and has urged restraint".

The 72-year-old Dalai Lama said he was surprised Dobriansky came to
Michigan to see him during his US tour.

'Deep appreciation'

"I want to express my deep appreciation to your government, your
president and state department and secretary of state and yourself [for]
always showing genuine concern", he said.

The meeting was criticised by China, which suggested that Washington was
meddling in its internal affairs.

It was Dobriansky's 12th meeting with the Dalai Lama aimed at finding a
way to resolve the Tibet issue amicably, the US state department said.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of being behind the March 14 riots in
Lhasa and the unrest that followed in other ethnic Tibetan areas, a
charge he denies.

He says he wants autonomy for Tibet, not independence.

The Dalai Lama arrived in the US on April 10, a day after demonstrators
disrupted the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco in protest over
China's crackdown in Tibet.

Trading protests

Outside the University of Michigan's basketball arena where the Dalai
Lama spoke on Sunday, several hundred pro-Chinese demonstrators held
signs and waved Chinese flags.

The protest led to heated verbal exchanges between pro-Chinese and
pro-Tibetan demonstrators.

They traded shouts of "One China" with "Open the door! Let's see what's
happening inside Tibet".

In another sign of the international fallout from China's crackdown on
Tibetan protests, the European Commission's president has indicted he
will discuss concerns over Tibet on a forthcoming visit to Beijing.

Jose Manuel Barroso, whose two-day China visit begins on Thursday, will
take up the topic as part of discussions on human rights and freedom of
expression, a spokesman for the European Union's executive body in
Beijing said.

Barroso has said he opposes boycotting the Beijing Olympics over the
Tibet issue.
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