Fri, May 09, 2008 - Page 5 News List

China, Dalai Lama envoys disagree over Tibet unrest

LOOKING AHEAD Talks between envoys of the Tibetan leader and Beijing officials did, however, pave the way for a more formal summit, the Dalai Lama's emissary said

AP , DHARAMSALA, INDIA

The Dalai Lama's special envoys Lodi Gyari, center, and Kelsang Gyaltsen, left, address a press conference in Dharamsala, India, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

The Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese officials "disagreed more than we agreed" at weekend talks on how to move beyond the unrest in Tibet, one of the envoys said yesterday.

At the talks, both sides made “concrete proposals” that could be part of a future agenda for discussions on Tibet, said Lodi Gyari, a special envoy for the Tibetan spiritual leader.

He did not provide any details on the proposals, but said the Tibetan side called for the release of people detained following the unrest that engulfed the region in March, and for authorities to let visitors — including journalists — into Tibet, which has been largely sealed since the violence.

The Tibetan side also pressed for an end to China’s “patriotic re-education” campaign in the region, which forces monks to denounce the Dalai Lama.

But it was far from clear that China was ready to listen.

“The Chinese did not give any assurances. They strongly defended their views,” he told reporters in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

“We disagreed more than we agreed,” he said. “Our counterparts again made baseless allegations against the Dalai Lama of derailing and sabotaging the Beijing Olympics. But we made it very clear that the Dalai Lama supported the Olympics from day one.”

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of fomenting recent protests in Tibet — an allegation the Tibetan spiritual leader denies.

“We made it clear that the events in Tibet are the inescapable consequences of wrong policies of the authorities toward the Tibetans,” Gyari said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. “The recent crisis in Tibet is a clear symptom of deeply felt grievances and resentment of the Tibetans.”

The talks were considered “informal,” and Gyari said the two sides were now trying to finalize dates for formal discussions.

The unrest marked the most widespread and sustained action against Beijing’s rule in decades, focusing attention on accusations that China’s policies in the Himalayan region are eroding its traditional Buddhist culture and mainly benefit Chinese who moved there since its 1951 occupation by Communist troops.

China says 22 people died in violence in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa, while overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number have been killed in protests and the security crackdown across Tibetan regions of western China.

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