By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, August 28: In its annual report on "Tibet Negotiations" submitted to the Congress earlier this month, the Obama administration has demanded “substantive” dialogue “without preconditions” between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Beijing to resolve the long-standing Tibet issue.
President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House February 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
“Encouraging substantive dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lana is an important foreign policy objective of the United States. We continue to encourage representatives of the PRC and the Dalai Lama to hold direct and substantive discussions aimed at the resolution of difference, without precondition,” the report said.
The “Report on Tibet Negotiations: March 2009 - February 2010” outlines the “Status of discussions” between the two sides and recounts steps taken by the Obama administration to encourage the PRC government to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama “leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet”.
“The US government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China as it deals with the difficult challenge of continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. His views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and he commands the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. His consistent advocacy on non-violence is an important principle for making progress toward a lasting solution,” the report noted.
“China's engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of both the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. Failure to address these problems will lead to greater tensions inside China and will be an impediment to China's social and economic development.”
In the 11-page report
, the US government reiterated its call on China to respect the unique religious, linguistic and cultural heritage of the Tibetan people, and their human rights, and civil liberties.
The report, which was due in March, was submitted to the Congress only on August 18, a significant delay that critics say could imply “downplaying” of Tibet by Obama administration.
The US’s policy on Tibet is spelled out in the Tibet Policy Act 2002, and it supports, among other things, talks between the Dalai Lama and Beijing and respect for Tibetans' human rights and religious, linguistic and cultural heritage.
Under the act, the US government is required to submit its annual report on the negotiations between Beijing and Dalai Lama.
Nine rounds of talks held so far since 2002 between the two sides did not produce any concrete results.
After a hiatus of almost 15 months the two sides held their ninth round of dialogue in January 2010 in Beijing.
While welcoming the resumption of dialogue, the report said US was “disappointed that eight years of talks have not borne concrete results”.
“We hope that another round will be scheduled soon and will include discussion that will lead to solutions to the problems that Tibet and its people face.
“We continue to urge both sides to engage in substantive dialogue and hope to see a tenth round of dialogue that will lead to positive movement on questions related to Tibetans’ lives and livelihood,” the report said.