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Dalai Lama on WikiLeaks - focus on climate not politics in Tibet

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told a US envoy to India that "political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change...", according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2010 13:31 IST

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told a US envoy to India that "political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change...", according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

The Dalai Lama last year told the US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer that the "political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau" during a meeting in Delhi, the Guardian reported on Friday.

"Melting glaciers, deforestation and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that 'cannot wait', but the Tibetans could wait five to 10 years for a political solution," he was quoted as saying.

In the cable sent to Washington regarding the meeting, Roemer said "the Dalai Lama's message may signal a broader shift in strategy to reframe the Tibet issue as an environmental concern".

The ambassador reported that the Dalai Lama criticised China's energy policy and said dam construction in Tibet had displaced thousands of people and left temples and monasteries underwater.

He suggested that Chinese authorities compensate Tibetans for disrupting their nomadic lifestyle with vocational training, and said there were "three poles" in danger of melting - the north pole, the south pole, and "the glaciers at the pole of Tibet", the Guardian reported.

The cables also show the appeals made by the Dalai Lama for intervention by the US during unrest in Tibet in 2008 and he pleaded with US officials to take action that would "make an impact" in Beijing.

Another cable said that at the end of a 30-minute meeting the Dalai Lama embraced the embassy's officials and "made a final plea".

"Tibet is a dying nation. We need America's help," he was quoted as saying.

Officials repeatedly made the point that the Indian government's policy towards the Tibetans in exile is likely to be decided by public sentiment.

In a March 2008 cable, an official told Washington that Shivshankar Menon, current Indian national security adviser and then India's top diplomat, explained to the US ambassador that though "the Tibetan movement has the sympathy of the Indian public, and India has been a generally supportive home to tens of thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, for nearly 50 years... the tacit agreement that Tibetans are welcome in India as long as they don't cause problems is being challenged at a time when India's complex relationship with Beijing is churning with border issues, rivalry for regional influence, a growing economic interdependence, the nascent stages of joint military exercises, and numerous other priorities".

The US officials said that "while the (government of India) will never admit it", New Delhi's "balancing act with India's Tibetans (would) continue for the foreseeable future, with the caveat that a rise in violence - either by Tibetans here or by the Chinese security forces in Tibet - could quickly tip the balance in favour of the side with greater public support", the daily reported.