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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

UK says Dalai Lama has met conditions set by China for talks

November 3, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
October 31, 2008

"No government which is committed to promoting international respect
for human rights can remain silent on the issue of Tibet, or
disinterested in a solution to its problems." - David Miliband,
British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Dharamsala, October 31 -- In a written ministerial statement issued
Wednesday, the British government has acknowledged that the exiled
Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama has actually met conditions set by the
Chinese government in order to have dialogue for a negotiated
settlement between the two sides.

"The Chinese Government has said that it is serious about dialogue
and that it hopes for a positive outcome. It has set conditions for
dialogue which we believe the Dalai Lama has met," British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband said in the statement.

"The Dalai Lama has made clear that he is not seeking separation or
independence. He has said repeatedly that he is seeking a resolution
to the situation of Tibet within the framework of the Chinese
constitution," Miliband said, adding "He [Dalai Lama] has maintained
a clear opposition to violence."

Commenting on the latest round of talks being held in Beijing,
Miliband said: "These talks are hugely important for the future of
Tibet. They provide the only forum in which there is any realistic
possibility of progress to resolve the differences between the
parties involved."

The statement says: "The British Government has a strong interest in
the dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama's
representatives, although we are not a party to it.

"No government which is committed to promoting international respect
for human rights can remain silent on the issue of Tibet, or
disinterested in a solution to its problems."

"Britain has been clear under this Government about our commitment to
the people of Tibet. We remain deeply concerned about the human
rights situation there," Miliband said, adding he himself had made
"the same point to Foreign Minister Yang on a number of occasions
since the unrest in March this year in Tibet."

He said, "We have consistently made clear that we want to see the
human rights of the Tibetan people respected, including through
respect for their distinct culture, language, traditions and religions."

"Our interest is not in restoring an order which existed 60 years ago
and which the Dalai Lama himself has said he does not seek to
restore," he said.

Miliband said his government is also concerned "at more immediate
issues arising directly from the unrest of this spring, including the
situation of those who remain in detention following the unrest, the
increased constraints on religious activity, and the limitations on
free access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region by diplomats and journalists".

He said "These issues reinforce long-held unease on the part of the
Government about the underlying human rights situation in Tibet."

"Our interest is in long term stability, which can only be achieved
through respect for human rights and greater autonomy for the
Tibetans," he added.

Saying his government is aware of the "indications of growing
frustration among some Tibetans about the dialogue process", Miliband
said that the Dalai Lama's stated position of opposing violence and
seeking meaningful autonomy within the framework of the Chinese
constitution provided a basis for a negotiated settlement.

"Our strong view is that genuine progress at the next round of talks
is essential to promote progress on such a settlement. Participation
in these talks carries a weight of responsibility for both parties,"
he said of the ongoing eighth round of talks started since 2002.

However, commenting on the ministerial statement, London-based Free
Tibet organisation insists that the British Government could do more
than simply issuing an official statement.

While welcoming certain points raised by the foreign secretary, the
group said it was "disappointed that the British government has not
publicly sponsored a call for an international delegation to visit
Tibet to launch an independent investigation into events in Tibet this spring."

"The British government, and other foreign governments, must now move
beyond a position of welcoming talks for the sake of talks," Free
Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said.

"The Chinese government must be held accountable for a worsening
human rights situation in Tibet, a situation that the Foreign
Secretary in his statement today admits to causing long-standing
'unease'" Brigden said.

According to him, a "call for an international fact-finding
delegation to Tibet would be a good first step: even if such a demand
were rejected by China it would at least signal to China that the
international community will not remain silent on gross human rights
violations in Tibet".
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