Dalai Lama to ask Bush to help resolve Tibet issue: envoy
AFP[Thursday, November 03, 2005 21:41]
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will appeal to US President George W. Bush in talks this month to prod Chinese leader Hu Jintao to give genuine autonomy to the Himalayan territory, an official said.

The meeting with Bush is to take place during the Dalai Lama's high-profile 10-day visit to Washington beginning November 8, said Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Tibetan leader's special envoy.

"Obviously His Holiness will ask the president to take the opportunity to once again convey to the Chinese leadership His Holiness's sincerity and commitment to finding a solution (to the Tibetan question)," he told reporters.

Gyari said the Dalai Lama would stress to Bush in his third meeting with the US leader since he took office in 2001 that the Tibetans were not seeking independence but "the right to self governance."

"I must say that President Bush, on this issue, has been consistent and we very much appreciate his strong support.

"He does it not because he is pro-Tibet or anti-Chinese but because he understands that resolving the Tibetan issue can bring more stability in that part of the region," Gyari said.

Bush, whose previous two meetings with the Dalai Lama drew angry complaints from China, is scheduled to visit Beijing on November 19 for talks with Hu and is expected to raise the Tibet issue with him.

Bush is expected to "raise the Tibet issue is a strong manner," Gyari said, basing the prediction on the US president's past meetings with the Chinese leadership.

The Dalai Lama, 70, has lived in India since he fled from Chinese troops in 1959, basing his government-in-exile in the hill-top northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

Beijing formally established a Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965 but Gyari said there was no genuine autonomy.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for Tibet, has been pushing for greater autonomy for the Himalayan kingdom, as the head of an unrecognized government and de facto diplomat.

The International Campaign for Tibet, a group spearheading a campaign for human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet, said the Dalai Lama was coming to Washington at a "key moment," citing the current Sino-Tibetan dialogue on the territory's future status.

The first-ever talks between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing officials outside Chinese soil were held in the Swiss capital Berne in July.

The talks were the fourth between the two sides since direct links were resumed in 2002.

Gyari said he hoped there would be another meeting with the Chinese before the end of the year.

"This possibility had been conveyed to me by my Chinese counterpart," he said.

Chinese President Hu, once Communist Party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, recently reasserted Beijing's claim that Tibet had been an "inalienable part of Chinese territory" from the 13th century onward.

The Dalai Lama "has remarked several times in the past that he would like to see President Hu as someone much more easier to engage because of his personal knowledge of Tibet," Gyari said.

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