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Dalai Lama clears the way for tough talk on Tibet

October 29, 2008

Ajay Bharadwaj, b_ajay@dnaindia.net
DNA India
October 28, 2008

CHANDIGARH -- The days of a soft approach to the Tibet issue might be
over. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama (73) has indicated that he
was losing faith in his middle-path approach in talking Tibet with
Beijing and would now ask fellow Tibetans to decide the future course
of action.

"We have already made enough concessions and sincere efforts in
seeking only greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule through
the middle-way policy," he said. Agencies even hinted at a switch in
policy from demanding autonomy to full independence.

Distraught at repeated failures to break ice with China, the Dalai
Lama said he was now losing faith in dealing with the Chinese. His
comments come ahead of a new round of talks between his envoys and
Chinese officials later this week.

His spokesman Tenzin Taklha said all options would be on the table at
a meeting scheduled next month of exiled Tibetan leaders involved in
the campaign for greater autonomy for their Himalayan homeland.

The Dalai Lama, however, added that his approach had found favour
among many Chinese scholars and he still had faith in the Chinese people.

Denying the Chinese allegation that he was leading a campaign to
separate Tibet from China, the Dalai Lama said he was only seeking a
solution to the Tibet issue within the constitutional framework of
the People's Republic of China. The "issue at hand was the welfare of
the Tibetan people and not my personal status and affairs. It is
about the problems that the Tibetan people are facing".

"So far I have been sincerely pursuing the mutually beneficial
Middle-Way policy in dealing with China. I have now asked the Tibetan
government-in-exile, as a true democracy in exile, to decide in
consultation with the Tibetan people how to take the dialogue
forward," he added.

The Dalai Lama had recently called a 'special meeting' of all Tibetan
exile groups to discuss the progress of talks and the situation in
Tibet. This was done in the backdrop of widespread anti-China
protests in Tibet earlier this year. "Even under extreme fear of
repression, Tibetan people showed great courage in expressing their
aspiration and deep resentment and discontent against Chinese rule,"
the Nobel peace prize winner said.

"Unfortunately, the demonstrations in Tibet have been violently
suppressed by the Chinese police and military. Besides, the Chinese
government went on to create a distorted image of the situation and
described the unrest as a work of separatist elements to split China," he said.

"From my side, I have made all efforts and kept all doors open for
China to clear its mistrust and show evidence to prove their
accusations against us," he said, adding "but [Chinese side] showed
no response at all".

"In the absence of any appropriate and timely response, my position
as the Dalai Lama is only becoming an obstruction instead of helping
find a solution to the Tibet issue. As far as I'm concerned I have
given up," he said.

"So, in the coming meeting Tibetan people must take serious
responsibility to discuss the future course of action on Tibet and
find out where what has stalled our dialogue process," he said.
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