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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."

Europe economic talks overshadowed by Tibet

April 27, 2008

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING, April 25 (Reuters) - China and the European Union began to
address economic frictions, development policy and climate change in
high-level meetings on Friday dogged by tension over Tibet protests and
the Olympics.

EU officials led by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
had intended meetings with senior Chinese officials in Beijing this week
to help ease rifts over China's big trade deficit and to foster
agreement on "sustainable" growth.

But the preparations have been upstaged by anti-Chinese unrest across
Tibetan areas last month, followed by Tibet protests that upset the
Beijing Olympic torch relay in London and Paris, and then nationalist
Chinese counter-protests.

At the start of a meeting with Barroso, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
stressed hopes for fruitful negotiations.

"We stand ready to have in-depth discussions on the future of China-EU
relations and sustainable development of both sides," Wen told EU
officials in front of reporters.

But the top EU foreign policy official said Tibet would also feature in
the talks, along with sustainable development and climate change, and
that she wants Beijing to open talks with the Dalai Lama, the exiled
Tibetan Buddhist leader Beijing blames for the Tibetan unrest.

"We indeed support a peaceful reconciliation between the Chinese
authorities and the Dalai Lama and his representatives," EU External
Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters in Tokyo on
Thursday, before heading to Beijing.

That message is likely to draw irritated swipes from Chinese leaders,
who have shown little patience for Western pressure over restive Tibet,
which Beijing says is a purely internal issue.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday told the visiting President of
the French Senate, Christian Poncelet, that the torrid Paris protests
against Chinese control in Tibet were "unfriendly to the Chinese people."

"We hope the French side will squarely face up to the problems that have
emerged," Hu told him, according to Xinhua news agency.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, in Beijing to launch regular
high-level talks on the two sides' trade gap and other economic
disputes, urged an end to mutual threats of boycotts.

The European Parliament has asked EU leaders to boycott the opening
ceremony at the Beijing Games in August unless China opens talks with
the Dalai Lama.

Such calls, and Chinese public counter-campaigns to boycott European
companies, especially the French supermarket chain Carrefour served
neither side, Mandelson said on Thursday.

"We need to live with China, work alongside China, and gain China's
commitment to working on the issues between us," he said by telephone.
(Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Macfie
and Sanjeev Miglani)
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