Dalai Lama calls for dialogue with China in Paris
13 August 2008
PARIS – The Dalai Lama warned Wednesday against isolating China and said instead Beijing should be nudged by dialogue to accept democracy and freedom.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with lawmakers during his 12-day visit to France, the Tibetan spiritual leader said China wanted to join the international community.
The international community also had the responsibility to bring China to accept the value of human rights and democracy, he said at a news conference in Paris.
The world "must not isolate China," he added.
He also agreed with US President George W Bush that China had many problems and one had to be firm with Beijing.
The Dalai Lama emphasised that his visit to France was spiritual. His meeting with members of parliament had been declared a private one at the request of the senate leader; the talks were not allowed to take place in official rooms and journalists and photographers were not admitted.
The unofficial nature of the visit has prompted widespread criticism in France, especially as neither French President Nicolas Sarkozy nor other government representatives are set to meet the Dalai Lama.
Asked whether France was bowing to China by refraining from official talks with the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama said he would be happy to meet Sarkozy. However it would not make a difference if there was no meeting, he said.
Sarkozy had expressed the desire to meet the Dalai Lama in the future, he said.
Ties between the French government and China were damaged in the spring after Sarkozy initially threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Following pressure from China, he later reversed his announcement and attended the ceremony.
While abstaining from criticism of France, the Nobel peace laureate said he was disappointed about the lack of progress in talks with Beijing on Tibet.
Tibetans were only able to voice their opinions with demonstrations as Beijing had taken freedom of speech and responsibility away from them, the Dalai Lama said.
However, the Tibetan parliament in exile would meet in September and present concrete suggestions: "We want to continue the talks," the Dalai Lama said.
He added that, as a Tibetan in exile, he saw himself as spokesman rather than as head of the Tibetans.
The Tibetans have maintained a parliament and prime minister-in- exile since 2001.
The Dalai Lama announced he would retire soon and concentrate on promoting human values and peace among religions.
[dpa / Expatica]
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