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Dalai Lama thanks Italian parliamentarians for 'support'

December 14, 2007

Earthtimes, UK

Rome - The Dalai Lama on a visit to Italy - which has been criticized by
China - on Thursday met Italian lawmakers, thanking them for supporting
religious freedom and autonomous rule in Tibet. The Tibetan Buddhist
spiritual leader had been invited by Italy's lower house of parliament
Chamber of Deputies speaker Fausto Bertinotti to address the lawmakers
at the Montecitorio parliament building in Rome.

In what has been widely seen as a compromise move to avoid angering
Beijing, the Dalai Lama spoke to the lawmakers not in the main assembly
hall, but in a side room.

The lawmakers - most of them members of the 280 member bipartisan "For
Tibet" group - Bertinotti and Italy's Foreign Affairs Undersecretary,
Gianni Vernetti, the most senior government official present, warmly
applauded the Dalai Lama.

Reiterating that he is not advocating secession for Tibet, which has
been occupied by China since 1951, the Dalai Lama said his was a
campaign for the Himalayan region's autonomy and religious freedom for
its people.

"We follow the two handed approach. Our right hand always reaches out to
the Chinese government asking them to recognize minority rights. Our
left hand ask supporters, in Italy and elsewhere in the world to help
us," the Dalai Lama said.

"Once China grants us our rights, then we will use our left hand to
thank our international supporters and wave goodbye," he added.

Tracing the recent history of negotiations with China's Communist
government, the Dalai Lama said that five meetings held since 2001 had
made "great progress".

However, a sixth meeting held in June-July had witnessed a hardening of
China's attitude with Beijing officials subsequently claiming:"There is
no Tibetan issue," the Dalai Lama said.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Vernetti, speaking to reporters after the
Dalai Lama
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