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China-Tibet Talks are Encouraging, says Dalai Lama - 2003-06-04


The Dalai Lama says he is encouraged by talks between Chinese officials and his Tibetan government in exile. The Tibetan spiritual leader made the remark during a visit to Copenhagen.

During a joint news conference with Denmark's foreign minister Wednesday, the Dalai Lama expressed hope that the current round of talks in Beijing can help to build confidence.

"It looks like a good start," he said. Chinese government official attitude is more positive. So this moment we are making effort to build confidence because the Chinese government is always very suspicious."

The Dalai Lama's representative in Washington, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, is leading the Tibetan delegation at the talks with China in Beijing. He is reported to be carrying a secret message from the Dalai Lama, leading to speculation that he may soon return to Tibet after nearly 50 years in exile.

The Chinese foreign ministry has played down the importance of the talks, describing the presence of the Dalai Lama's envoys as a "private visit." That reflects Beijing's refusal to recognize the Tibetan government in exile.

The Dalai Lama once sought independence for Tibet. He now advocates autonomy within China. The Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters Wednesday he hopes the talks will help to persuade Chinese authorities that he is not seeking independence.

"I repeated several times I'm not seeking independence, but Chinese government is suspicious, so it's important to build up confidence," said the Dalai Lama. "Then once Chinese get trust, we Tibetans are following [the] one China principle, not independence, then I think [we can have] serious discussions how to improve conditions inside Tibet."

The Dalai Lama's visit to Copenhagen is part of a European tour that has recently taken him to Germany and Sweden. The Nobel Peace laureate spoke to a crowd of 15,000 in Stockholm Tuesday, urging increased use of non-violence to solve conflicts.

During his five-day stay in Denmark, he will also hold talks with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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