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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Interview: Very few chances of agreeing with China: Tibetan leader

June 9, 2008

By Jaideep Sarin
June 8, 2008

McLeodganj (Himachal Pradesh), June 7 (IANS) Just days ahead of the
seventh round of talks between the exiled Tibetan leadership and
China, a top Tibetan leader here says there is very little chance of
an agreement with China on core issues. "Unke saath ekmat hona bahut
mushkil hai. (It will be very difficult to agree with them),"
Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister (Kalon Tripa) of the Tibetan
government-in-exile based in the Indian town of Dharamsala, told IANS
here in an exclusive interview.

"We have serious differences with China over two core issues -
history (of Tibet) and the population. We are ready to acknowledge
that Tibet is now part of China. But we will not say that it was
historically part of China. That is what China wants the Dalai Lama
to say. We will not do it as it will legitimise their occupation of
Tibet," Rinpoche said.

The exiled Tibetan leadership also disputes China's division of
Tibetan territory into 11 parts. "We want all these parts to be
united and that region to be given full autonomy," he added.

The next round of talks between the envoys of Tibetan spiritual
leader the Dalai Lama and Chinese leaders are to be held in the last
week of June after a gap of one year.

The talks are crucial as these are being held after the March-April
Tibetan uprising against China and ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

"We have nothing new to raise in the forthcoming round of talks. The
issues will remain the same, plus we will raise the recent violence
inside Tibet," Rinpoche said.

The Dalai Lama's envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied
by two other Tibetan officials, will go to China for the seventh
round of talks.

"China needs an enemy and they have chosen His Holiness (the Dalai
Lama) for the moment. That is their style of functioning. They have
been demonising him in recent months and blaming him for the turmoil
inside Tibet. It makes no difference to us. They cannot keep fooling
the world," Rinpoche said in one of the hardest criticisms of the
Chinese policy on Tibet.

Rinpoche said the problem concerning Tibet was not with the Chinese
ideology over the matter or the Chinese people but "only with some
top hardcore Chinese leaders." He refused to identify those leaders.

Following international pressure in the run-up to the Olympics, China
held talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys last month in Beijing but the
talks ended abruptly.

China has been blaming the "Dalai clique" for being behind the
violence in Tibet in March-April this year. They have been calling
the Dalai Lama a 'a wolf in the robes of a monk'.

But Rinpoche said he was still hopeful that the talks between both
sides would lead somewhere, as there was international pressure on China.

"There is no chance that we will not talk. Tibetans are suffering
inside Tibet and we must engage China in some talks for their cause," he said.

Rinpoche said he did not believe that the United Front (Works
department) of China's Communist Party, with whom the Tibetan envoys
are talking, is an inconsequential entity. "This is their party's
official department that deals with minorities. So we have no problem
with that," he added.

The Dalai Lama, who left Tibet in 1959 to flee Chinese occupation,
heads the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala.
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