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Dalai Lama curious about China's path post-Games

August 15, 2008

By Emma Vandore, AP Writer
The Associated Press
August 13, 2008

PARIS (AP) -- The Dalai Lama said Wednesday that he is disappointed
by the latest round of talks aimed at easing tensions between his
supporters and China and added that he wants to see what path Chinese
authorities will chart once the Olympics are over.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is in France for a 12-day visit that
coincides largely with the Beijing Olympics. The visit is devoted
mostly to spiritual matters, but Wednesday offered two opportunities
to discuss the issue of Tibet _ a news conference and a closed-door
meeting with French lawmakers.

While President Nicolas Sarkozy does not plan to see the Dalai Lama
this month, a government minister said the two men would meet Dec.
10, when Sarkozy welcomes Nobel Peace Prize winners to Paris. The
president's office did not confirm the date and a representative of
the Dalai Lama would not comment on it.

The Dalai Lama told reporters he has always supported China's hosting
of the Games _ though China has accused him of being insincere.

"After the Olympics, what will happen?" he asked. "I don't know. Wait and see."

The Dalai Lama said the international community "should be firm" with
China on the issues of democracy, human rights, religious freedom and
the rule of law.

"But we should not isolate China" and instead bring it into the
international community with "genuine friendship," the Dalai Lama said.

He hailed the "transparency" of Chinese authorities in dealing with a
massive May 12 earthquake, but contrasted this openness with China's
attitude to Tibet.

Chinese authorities blame the Dalai Lama for recent unrest in Tibet,
which Beijing says was part of a campaign to split the Himalayan
region from the rest of China.

The Dalai Lama has denied the accusations, saying that despite
China's crackdown in Tibet, he still supports a solution of
meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under China's rule, not

Envoys of the Dalai Lama met with Chinese authorities for a new round
of talks last month. At the time, one of his envoys said the talks
were difficult but said he would return for more discussions after
the Olympics.

The Dalai Lama echoed those sentiments Tuesday.

"My first expression is disappointment," the Dalai Lama said. "But
still we want to continue talking to the Chinese government."

France's government is keeping contacts with the Dalai Lama to a
minimum during the visit _ prompting critics and human rights groups
to accuse France of bowing to Chinese pressure over business contracts.

France has many pro-Tibetan activists who protested in the streets as
the Olympic flame passed through Paris in April on its world tour,
angry about China's harsh crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators in
March. Some Chinese called for boycotts of French products afterward.

Asked about the Dalai Lama's visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said
Wednesday that China hoped France would "properly handle the
Tibet-related issues."

"We hope France can work together with China to rule out any
disruptions, to enhance our mutual trust and to maintain the momentum
of development of bilateral relations," spokesman Qin Gang said.
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