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Rice Urges China to Change Tibet Policy


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging China to reconsider its policy toward Tibet, and to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. VOA's Kent Klein reports from the State Department.

Secretary Rice is calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between protesters and Chinese authorities, and she says the Dalai Lama could help.

"We believe that the Dalai Lama could play a very favorable role, given his belief in nonviolence, given his stated position that he does not seek political independence for Tibet, and given his unassailable, authoritative moral stature, not just with the people of Tibet, but with people from around the world," she said.

After meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the State Department early Monday, Rice told reporters the use of violence in the Tibet conflict is unacceptable, and that China should consider a more sustainable policy in the region.

Mukherjee agreed that the Dalai Lama's involvement in negotiations could be helpful. The Indian foreign minister also said the estimated 180,000 Tibetans living in India are free to practice their religion as they wish, but he warned that they should not take part in political activities in India.

"They can carry on their religious, cultural and spiritual activities, but as per our law, they are not entitled to carry on any political activities, as Indian citizens also cannot carry on any political activities which are inimical to any friendly countries, or which can destroy the relationship between India and any other country," he said.

The Tibetan government-in-exile, based in India, says 130 people have been killed in the fighting. The Chinese government's official death toll is 19. World leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are urging a peaceful resolution of the situation in Tibet.

Demonstrations against Chinese rule turned violent on March 14 in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. The conflict has spread to other parts of China.

In other matters, Mukherjee said the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the United States is being held up by political disputes in his country.

During his visit to Washington, Mukherjee also scheduled private talks with President Bush at the White House.

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