Respect the Olympic torch, Dalai Lama says (Lead)

June 12th, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, June 12 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama Thursday voiced optimism about future talks with China and called for calm and respect for the Olympic torch when it travels through Tibet next week. “We have fully supported the Olympic Games right from the beginning. The torch is part of that. Over one billion Chinese brothers and sisters feel really proud of that. We should respect that. So I don’t think there will be any trouble,” the exiled Tibetan leader, who is in Australia on a six-day visit, told reporters here.

The Olympic torch relay, which has been disrupted by anti-Beijing demonstrations in Europe, the US and Asia, is scheduled to pass through Lhasa June 19 ahead of the Beijing Olympics beginning in August.

“Basically, I’m optimistic,” the Dalai Lama said, about the future of talks with China over Tibet. He said Chinese President Hu Jintao had expressed “seriousness” about the talks, and the dialogue would resume “maybe next month”.

He has also called on Beijing to give Tibet “meaningful autonomy”, adding: “Stability must come from the heart, not a gun.”

Brushing aside actor Sharon Stone’s comment that the recent earthquake in Sichuan province could be due to karma, the Dalai Lama said: “Every event is karma. So the tragedy on Tibetans, tragedy in Burma, tragedy in China - all this (is karma).”

He praised the Chinese government’s handling of the earthquake disaster that killed thousands, saying it was “wonderful”.

During his Australia tour, while the Dalai Lama will not be meeting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, he will meet Immigration Minister Chris Evans and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. He met opposition leader Brendan Nelson on Wednesday.

Saying that it will be a great honour to meet the Dalai Lama, Evans told Australian Broadcasting Corp: “We have a very good solid relationship with China but we also have the right to meet the Dalai Lama and encourage better dialogue between him and the Chinese government about the future of Tibet.”

The 72-year-old Nobel Laureate is addressing a series of meditation lectures in Sydney. But these don’t come cheap at about A$800 for the full five-day programme.

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