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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

US presidential hopeful Obama says backs "people of Tibet"

August 2, 2008

July 31, 2008

DHARAMSHALA, India (AFP) -- US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has
sent a letter to the Dalai Lama backing the rights of the "people of
Tibet," a spokesman for the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader said.

"I wanted to take the opportunity to reassure you of my highest
respect and support for you, your mission and your people at this
critical time," Obama said in the letter, whose receipt was confirmed
by the Dalai Lama's office late Wednesday.

Obama's Republican presidential rival John McCain met the Dalai Lama
to discuss Tibet last week in Aspen, Colorado, where the spiritual
leader addressed a Tibetan cultural seminar.

Obama, who has been on a whirlwind foreign trip meeting world
leaders, expressed regret in the letter that "our respective travel
schedules will prevent us from meeting" during the Dalai Lama's visit
to the United States.

But he said he hoped the letter and the meeting with McCain "will
make clear that American attention to and backing for the people of
Tibet is widespread and transcends the divisions of our political contest."

The Secretary of the Dalai Lama Chhime R. Chhoekyapa confirmed the
Dalai Lama received Obama's letter sent July 24 but declined to make
any comment.

Obama in his letter praised the Dalai Lama's non-violent tactics and
contributions to bringing understanding between people of different

After McCain met the Dalai Lama last Friday, China warned him to stop
"supporting and conniving with" the spiritual leader, saying meeting
the Tibetan spiritual leader hurt Sino-US relations.

McCain has criticised China's record on human rights in Tibet, which
was thrown into the international spotlight in March during a
crackdown on protests against Chinese rule that began in the region's
capital, Lhasa.

The protests spread to other parts of China with Tibetan populations,
with the government-in-exile saying 203 Tibetans were killed in the crackdown.

Beijing says only one Tibetan was killed, and has in turn accused the
"rioters" of killing 21 people in the protests that cast a shadow
over the August Olympics.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to
"liberate" the remote Himalayan region.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed uprising
and has since lived in exile in India.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist, but he insists he
does not want independence for Tibet, seeking only greater autonomy
for the Himalayan territory as well as an end to religious and
cultural repression.
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