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Dalai Lama Starts Australia Tour

June 13, 2008

BBC News
June 11, 2008S

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has arrived in
Australia for a five-day visit, as his supporters urged China to meet
his envoys.

The Dalai Lama will deliver a series of lectures and meet Immigration
Minister Chris Evans, acting head of government while leader Kevin
Rudd is in Japan.

The meeting, likely to anger China, reflected the Dalai Lama's status
as a religious leader, the government said.

Last month China criticised UK leader Gordon Brown for meeting him in London.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating recent unrest in
Tibet and the subsequent protests over human rights, which dogged
international legs of the Olympic torch relay.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has repeatedly denied any role in the
violent protests which erupted in March in and around Tibet.

'DELAYING TACTICS'

Some human rights groups have criticised Mr Rudd for failing to meet
the Dalai Lama.

He will instead meet Mr Evans in Sydney on Friday, an official said.

"This reflects the Dalai Lama's status as an international religious
leader and the significant domestic interest in the Dalai Lama's
visit, including from the Tibetan immigrant community in Australia,"
a government spokesperson said.

The Australia Tibet Council said it had urged the government to use
the meeting to persuade China to hold talks with the Tibetan
government-in-exile.

Early in May, in what was seen as a concession to international
pressure, Chinese officials held talks with two envoys of the Dalai Lama.

But a second round of talks set for this week was postponed following
the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province.

"With less than two months remaining before the Olympics, the
Australia Tibet Council fears that the Chinese government believes
that it can use delaying tactics to avoid addressing the Tibet
issue," chief executive officer Paul Bourke said.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi said further talks
between the two sides were conditional.

"We maintain that the Dalai Lama's side must halt the separatist
activity, ending violent acts of destruction against China, halt its
activity to ruin the Olympics, (thereby) creating the conditions for
further meetings," he said.
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