Bush raises concerns about Tibet with Chinese president

March 27th, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 27 (IANS) US President George W. Bush has raised his concerns about unrest in Tibet with President Hu Jintao of China and repeated his call to Beijing to talk to the Dalai Lama, the White House said. Bush called Hu Wednesday and “raised his concerns about the situation in Tibet and encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives and to allow access for journalists and diplomats”, White House press secretary Dana Perino stated.

Despite pleas from human rights activists not to attend the Beijing Olympic Games this summer in view of the unrest in Lhasa in protest against Chinese rule, Bush plans to go but has said he will express his concern about “a variety of issues” to Chinese officials.

“What the President wanted to do, as he said, was use the relationship he’s built with President Hu over time to raise these issues and speak very clearly and frankly with him about them,” Bush’s National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told reporters later.

“…he takes these issues very seriously… whether Olympics or no Olympics, these are important issues that need to be addressed,” the aide said describing Bush’s conversation with Hu as “a very good exchange”.

“The President pushed very hard on the need to be concerned about violence in Tibet, the need for restraint, the need for consultation with representatives of the Dalai Lama,” Hadley said.

Noting that consultations between Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama in the past have been suspended, he said: “The President urged that those be restored as part of a process for Chinese authorities to reaching out to and addressing the grievance of the people in Tibet”.

Hadley considered it “interesting” that “Hu said that the government was willing to continue contacts in consultation with the Dalai Lama as long as - and, again, as he said - there’s an abandonment of Tibetan independence and stopping activities that involved crimes and the use of violence.

“So again, the question is whether this will turn out to be an opening for a consultation process between Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama,” he said, as “the Dalai Lama has been very public in his views on both the issue of independence and the use of violence.”

“So we’ll have to see,” Hadley said.

Dismissing a question whether “Hu did not just brush off the President on Tibet”, he said: “No, it was a very lengthy exchange. And it was well prepared …It was a serious conversation on really all of the issues, and they were Taiwan, Tibet, North Korea and Burma”.

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