Hu urged to meet Dalai Lama in India

Tibet's parliament-in-exile has urged the Chinese president to meet Tibetan spiritual leader to settle age-old disputes.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2006 19:24 IST

Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India, Tibet's parliament-in-exile on Saturday urged him to meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama "preferably on Indian soil" to settle age-old disputes.

"There should be a meeting between the president of China and his holiness as soon as possible and preferably on Indian soil," said TT Karma Chophel, speaker of the 14th Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

"India's role as a facilitator is very important for many obvious reasons. Such a historic meeting will go a long way not only in ironing out the real stumbling blocks, but building confidence among the peoples of Tibet and China as well as the international community," he said in a statement here.

"The Dalai Lama has already expressed his wish to visit Tibet as well as China. The Chinese leadership should invite him to make such a visit without any preconditions," he added.

The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed anti-China revolt, has his government-in-exile in this hill town. Dharamsala is also home to the Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

The parliament's standing committee made the demand for a Hu-Dalai Lama meeting in a letter to the Chinese president, copies of which have been sent to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Chophel added that for years the Dalai Lama had worked towards a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue by giving up the demand for independence and instead sought self-rule and "genuine autonomy" under the provisions of the Chinese Constitution.

In spite of many rounds of talks, not much headway has been made towards a solution, the letter said.

Of late, there has been a visible hardening of the Chinese stance towards Tibetans both in and outside Tibet in the form of stringent implementation of "patriotic religious education".

"Means to a solution should be based on compassion, consideration, conciliation and sincerity, and not on confrontation and mistrust. We, therefore, call upon the Chinese president to consider very seriously and sincerely the demands of the Tibetan people," the letter added.

First Published: Nov 18, 2006 19:20 IST