Tibetan leader asks US to engage China in talks

Dharamsala, May 7 (IANS) Tibetan Prime Minister-in-Exile Lobsang Sangay Tuesday appealed to the US to engage China to restart a dialogue on the Tibet issue, even as 117 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in four years.

“I urge the US Congress to further strengthen its efforts to encourage the Chinese government to enter into a meaningful dialogue to resolve the Tibet issue peacefully,” the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) website said, quoting the political successor of the Dalai Lama.

Sangay said: “It would be extremely helpful if Congressional foreign policy committees could hold hearings on Tibet.”

According to him, 117 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2009. The common cry of all self-immolators is the return of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.

Quoting the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report, Sangay said: “Tibetans have every reason to believe that China wants Tibet but not the Tibetan people”.

The April 2013 commission report states the religious freedom conditions in Tibetan areas are worse now, than at any time over the past decade.

Sangay said members of the Congress have legislated over the years to help Tibet.

“This has given political, moral and financial support to the Dalai Lama’s vision of a peaceful solution to the Tibet problem though the ‘middle-way’ approach that would provide for genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of Chinese constitution.”

A CTA spokesperson told IANS that China and the Dalai Lama’s envoys have held nine rounds of talks since 2002 in efforts to resolve the Tibetan issue.

The last round of talks, the ninth, was held in Beijing in January 2010 and since then deadlock continues between both sides.

In November 2008 the discussion between the two sides collapsed after China’s rejection of the Tibetan demand for autonomy, the spokesperson added.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in this Himachal Pradesh hill town.

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