US urges 'immediate end' to violence in Lhasa
The United States has urged an "immediate end to the violence" in Lhasa, where 13 people have been killed in Chinese crackdown on monks, while refuting the impression that it was being "soft" on the question of criticising Beijing's human rights record.
At the White House, Press Secretary Dana Perino said the Bush administration had been in touch with the Chinese and impressed upon Beijing the need to exercise restraint in dealing with the protests.
"We have urged an immediate end to the violence so that people can get back to living a better life. But we are also -- we are just very concerned of the overall long-term prospects of it," Perino said.
Meanwhile, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said: "We are very concerned about the situation in Tibet. We continue to urge restraint on the part of the Chinese government in terms of how it responds to these protesters."
In a briefing, Casey said: "We have consistently called for engagement and dialogue and encouraged the Chinese government to engage in a substantive conversation with the Dalai Lama directly or through representatives so that the issues involving Tibet can be resolved."
On the notion that the US had, in anyway, been soft on China on its human rights track record, he said: "Let me make it as clear as possible. In the report that was released in 2007, we said that China had a poor record of human rights. In the report that was released in 2008, we said China has a poor record on human rights.
"We aren't pulling any punches, we have been very clear what our concerns are," he said.
Terming the Tibetan issue as the one of "longstanding in China", Casey stressed it was "going to have to be resolved internally between the parties".