exiles still ready for talks with China
Dharamsala, Feb 18 (IANS) The Tibetan government-in-exile
has always been ready for restarting the dialogue process
with China on the future of Tibet provided Beijing is sincere
and ready to discuss the issue, a Tibetan official said here
"We (the government-in-exile) are ready to restart the
negotiations with the Chinese... the door to talks is always
open, provided they (Chinese) are sincere in their dealings
and about the future of Tibet," Sonam N. Dagpo, secretary
of international affairs of the government-in-exile, told
IANS in an interview.
"We want to settle the issue mutually within the (Chinese)
constitution, through negotiations," said Dagpo, who
attended the crucial meeting of the task force of the exiles
that concluded in New Delhi over the weekend. The meeting
reviewed the future course of action of the exiles.
The two sides - China and the Dalai Lama envoys - have held
eight rounds of talks since 2002 to try to find a mutually
acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue, with no major breakthrough.
After the last round of negotiations - the eighth - in November
2008, China insisted it would not compromise on the status
of the Himalayan region.
"The issue of Tibet concerns the future of six million
Tibetans there and not just exiled spiritual leader the Dalai
Lama," Dagpo said, adding that China was willing to talk
to the Dalai Lama about his future but not that of Tibet.
"Still no decision has been taken regarding the next
visit of the Dalai Lama's envoys to China."
Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the government-in-exile
who chaired the task force meeting, said: "We are strict
on our charter of demands submitted through a memorandum during
the last round of talks."
"If the Chinese want to restart the negotiations, then
the demands of the exiles for meaningful autonomy and protection
for the Himalayan region's unique Buddhist culture would be
in the forefront," he said.
Tsewang Rigzin, head of the pro-independence Tibetan Youth
Congress, said: "We are not against the middle-way approach
of the Dalai Lama, but in reality China is not sincere...
we have to be realistic."
Political observers noted that the situation in Tibet these
days is quite tense as the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan
"The situation is Tibet is very, very tense. China has
even banned the visit of foreign tourists to areas dominated
by Tibetan populations ahead of the politically sensitive
50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising," said
March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of a failed rebellion
in Tibet against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama along with his
supporters was forced to flee into exile in India after the
uprising was crushed.
In March 2008, protests to mark the anniversary in Lhasa turned
violent and spread to other areas of western China.
Tibet's government-in-exile, which is based in this hill station
of northern India, said 219 people were killed and 1,294 injured
in the subsequent Chinese crackdown last year.
Nearly six million Tibetans live in the Tibet region of China
while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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