Paulson urges China to have dialogue on Tibet
Reuters[Wednesday, April 02, 2008 23:07]
By Glenn Somerville

BEIJING, April 2: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson raised the sensitive topic of unrest in Tibet during a visit to Beijing on Wednesday, urging a resolution to the issue through dialogue.

Paulson was the first U.S. official to visit China since protests broke out in Tibet that burst into a deadly riot on March 14. The violence was followed by more anti-government protests across ethnic Tibetan areas of western China.

"As you might imagine, I expressed our concern about the violence and urged a peaceful resolution through dialogue," Paulson told reporters.

"I made that point, I felt, in a very appropriate way to the appropriate people," he said, declining to specify to whom he had raised the issue.

Paulson met with President Hu Jintao, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, among other officials. He is due to meet Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday.

Chinese leaders accuse the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, of orchestrating the wave of demonstrations from his home in exile in India, where he has lived since a failed 1959 uprising against Communist rule.

China says his intent is to disrupt the Beijing Olympics, which run from Aug. 8-24, and to ultimately win independence for the remote, mountain region.

The Dalai Lama's representatives deny the charges and the 72-year-old has repeated that he is seeking greater autonomy for Tibet, not independence.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey also rejected allegations that the Dalai Lama was involved in plotting violence, saying there was no indication that he wanted anything more than dialogue with China on the status of Tibet.

NEPAL PROTEST

In the Nepali capital Kathmandu, police broke up a pro-Tibet protest and detained at least 71 people including nuns who tried to storm the Chinese embassy, in what has become an almost daily spectacle.

Groups of Tibetans holding placards reading "U.N. should punish China for not paying respect to human rights", came close to the main gate of the embassy before being hauled into vans and trucks.

Police said all those taken into custody would be freed later on Wednesday.

There have been regular protests by Tibetans in Nepal since mid-March, with scores arrested and then freed every day.

"We will continue to protest until the situation in Tibet calms down," said 25-year-old Tashi Lama, who said he had has been detained four times since last month.

"Plus, we demand free access for journalists from around the world to Tibet to film what is happening there."

The exiles locked their arms together and some wept as police dragged them by their feet into the waiting vehicles.

More than 20,000 Tibetans have been living in Nepal since they fled their homeland in large numbers in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Nepal accepts Tibet as part of China and does not allow the refugees to organise any activity against Beijing, an important source of foreign aid.

(Additional reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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