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China must address Tibetans' legitimate concerns, says Bush
May 02, 2008 14:29 IST
US President George W Bush [Images] has told China that it must address the "deep and legitimate concerns" of the Tibetan people and hold "real" and "substantive" talks with the Dalai Lama's [Images] representatives.
"I welcome the recent statements by the Chinese government expressing its willingness to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama, precisely what I had suggested (Chinese) President Hu Jintao do," Bush said in his first comments since Beijing's [Images] decision to resume dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
"It's important that there be a renewed dialogue -- and that dialogue must be substantive so we can address, in a real way, the deep and legitimate concerns of the Tibetan people," Bush told a gathering in Washington, DC, on the occasion of the Asian American Heritage month.
China has been under intense global pressure, including from Bush, to hold dialogue with the 72-year-old Dalai Lama since the anti-government protests erupted in Tibet [Images] which was followed by a Chinese crackdown in the Himalayan region.
Last week, China surprised many by saying that it will meet with a representative of the 72-year-old exiled Tibetan spiritual leader soon to bring an end to pro-Tibetan protests that have disrupted the Beijing Olympic torch relay and threaten to spill over into the Games in August.
The Dalai Lama has cautiously welcomed the Chinese dialogue offer but insisted that there must be "serious talks" to reduce resentment in Tibet or otherwise holding discussions "just to show it to the world" would be "meaningless".
China has previously held in-camera meetings with the spiritual leader's representatives, but none has taken place since July 2007. Beijing hopes that the new round of dialogue will lead the Dalai Lama to make credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks.
Beijing has told the Dalai Lama that he must end his quest for Tibetan independence and stop the anti-China protests in his Himalayan homeland that erupted in mid-March and spread to neighbouring regions. China has accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting the Tibetan unrest and trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics [Images].
The Dalai Lama has rejected the allegations.
The 2008 Olympic torch relay has been targeted on its journeys by pro-Tibet demonstrators in London [Images], Paris, and San Francisco which attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators and prompted dozens of arrests.
Tibet's government-in-exile says more than 200 people have been killed, in the Chinese crackdown on protests against China's rule of Tibet, that began on March 10.
On April 29, China announced that 30 people, including six Buddhist monks, were jailed for their roles in violent protests in Lhasa on March 14.
China claimed that the court proceedings were open and attended by more than 200 people, but US-based group Human Rights Watch said it was concerned that the defendants had not received a fair trial.