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British share Tibet's 'frustration'

Britain shares the "frustration" of the Tibetan exile movement in failing to make headway in autonomy talks with China.

world Updated: Nov 25, 2008 11:14 IST

Britain shares the "frustration" of the Tibetan exile movement in failing to make headway in autonomy talks with China, a British minister said.

But in comments made on Monday, Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell also said an autonomous Tibet must remain within the "framework of the Chinese Constitution."

Commenting on the conclusion of the Tibetan exiles' meeting in Dharamsala in India, Rammell said he welcomed the renewed commitment from the Tibetan exile movement "to pursue a sustainable solution to the underlying issues in Tibet through dialogue with China and non-violent means."

"The British government shares their frustration that it has not yet been possible to make substantive progress on the issues so far," he added. Rammell said that "some of the proposals put forward by the Tibetan side prior to the last round of dialogue should provide a basis for substantive discussion, focused initially on identifying points of agreement."

"So I urge both parties to resume their discussions without delay, to find a system of meaningful autonomy for Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution, with full respect for Tibet's distinct culture, religion and languages."

Rammell's comments follow Britain's recent recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband, in a parliamentary statement on Oct 29, gave his support to talks between Chinese and Tibetan negotiators and also backed the Dalai Lama's call for autonomy as a basis for agreement.

Miliband also referred to a historic agreement dating back to the early 20th century, which acknowledged China's "special position" in Tibet, but asserted that Tibet had never been fully part of the country.

However, describing the policy as an "anachronism", he asserted: "Like every other EU (European Union) member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China."

Talks between Chinese officials and Tibetan exiles ended earlier this month after failing to make any progress.

First Published: Nov 25, 2008 11:06 IST