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Dalai Lama willing for talks with China

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Hindustan Times | By Gaurav Bisht, Dharamshala (hp)
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2008 01:46 AM IST

The Dalai Lama on Thursday said he was ready to meet Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, to discuss the Tibet issue, and was even prepared to travel to Beijing to do so.

“I am always happy to meet the Chinese leaders, particularly Hu Jintao,” he told newsmen, speaking through a web telecast from residence in Mcleodganj.

But he clarified that the present time was not appropriate for a Beijing visit.

“If I go to Beijing it will be big news,” he noted. “Tibetans may develop unrealistic expectations. I have to be very cautious.” But he was ready to meet Chinese leaders at any other neutral venue.

The Dalai Lama appreciated the international support received lately for Tibet’s cause, but noted that the problem could only be solved through direct talks with Chinese leaders. “Others can help. But a solution can only be reached through, direct dialogue with China,” said the Dalai Lama.

He clarified that his stand on the Beijing Olympics remained unchanged.

“In spite of these crises my position remains the same,” he said. “It should be held.”

He insisted he had no intrinsic problem with China or its Communist government. “The problem is purely China’s policy in Tibet,” he said. He exhorted the Chinese to respect the human rights of Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama went on to praise communism in China. “Mao was great revolutionary. I met him on several occasions. His attitude was very good,” he said, further describing himself as “half a communist”.

“I wanted to join the communist party at one point of time,” he said.

Meanwhile the five NGOs behind the Return to Tibet march held a meeting to discuss the Dalai Lama’s call to disband. But no decision was reached. “We will hold another meeting soon,” said B Tsering President of TWA, one of the NGOs.

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