Tibetan task force seeks talks with Beijing
AFP[Wednesday, April 09, 2008 14:54]

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama
NEW DELHI: A Tibetan exile group set up by the Dalai Lama to push for greater autonomy for the Himalayan region on Wednesday offered to travel to Beijing to resume a dialogue about their homeland's future.

"We want to reopen the talks to resolve the Tibetan issue through the process of dialogue and whenever it is convenient for the Chinese authorities our special envoys could travel to Beijing," said spokesman Thubten Samphel.

He was speaking during a three-day meeting of the task force, which includes prominent Tibetan exiles from around the world, established by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The meeting was called to assess the situation in Tibet following the biggest anti-Chinese unrest in nearly two decades, which Tibetan exiles say has left 150 Tibetans people dead. Beijing says Tibetan rioters have killed 20.

The unrest poses a huge domestic crisis for China as it tries to present a peaceful image ahead of the Olympics in August.

The Tibetan task force, which has held six rounds of inconclusive talks with Beijing through special envoys since 2002, said there had been no change in its desire to pursue "the Middle Path" approach advocated by the Dalai Lama.

The "Middle Path" refers to "meaningful autonomy" to preserve Tibet's language, culture and environment within China and does not seek independence.

The task force said the group wanted to keep the struggle for greater Tibetan rights non-violent, in the face of demands from radical Tibetans for independence for the region.

The group added it believed Beijing was still pursuing its crackdown against Tibetans following anti-Chinese riots that erupted a month ago.

The Tibetan exiles have been protesting stern action taken against Tibetans by Beijing following the riots.

"There is no change in the situation in Tibet" according to the task force's latest information, said Samphel, who is also a senior official of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in northern India.

The government-in-exile set up base in the Indian town of Dharamshala after the Dalai Lama fled his homeland following the failure of an anti-Chinese uprising in 1959.

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