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Rice urges China to start talks with Dalai Lama

March 24, 2008 7:57:46 AM PDT
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging China to consider a different Tibet policy and to start talks with the Dalai Lama. A Chinese dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, Rice said, "is going to be the only policy that is sustainable in Tibet."

The Dalai Lama, with his belief in nonviolence and "his unassailable authoritative moral stature," can "play a very favorable role" in seeking a peaceful resolution to unrest in Tibet, Rice said at a news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

She repeated a U.S. call for Chinese restraint and the abandonment of violence.

China demonizes the Dalai Lama as an agitator for Tibetan independence. Beijing has faced harsh criticism after demonstrations against Chinese rule turned violent March 14 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

Mukherjee said exiled Tibetans can carry on their religious activities from their base in India. But, he warned, India will not allow political activities that could disturb its relations with other countries, referring to India-China ties.

China accuses the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, of trying to harm its image ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics. Beijing berated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit last week to the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, India, saying she was ignoring the truth about Tibet.

But Rice praised Pelosi's trip. "To have contact with him, I think, is a good thing, not a bad thing," Rice said.

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