US calls for dialogue between Dalai Lama and China

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Washington, Mar 20: The Bush Administration has termed any potential dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama "very positive." US State Department spokesman Tom Casey made this statement yesterday when asked to comment on the reported remark of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that China's Premier Wen Jiabao had told him that he was open to talks under certain conditions.

Mr Casey, however, said he did not have any details of Mr Brown's statement. '' If that is, in fact, true or more importantly, if such a dialogue has begun, that would be a very positive step forward,'' he said. ''We would certainly like to see that happen. Again, he is the spiritual leader for many people in Tibet and elsewhere and we believe that he has an important role to play in being able to help resolve some of the tensions and problems there,'' the US spokesman said.

When asked to comment on the Dalai Lama's potential indication that he would resign if violence continued in Tibet, Mr Casey said, ''I think one of the things that is clear is that the Dalai Lama is not calling for independence for Tibet. He's calling for engagement with Chinese officials in dialogue and we support that call." He said, '' We very much want to see the Chinese speak with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to try and resolve many of these outstanding issues.'' To drive his point home, he referred to the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's comments as well as her statement and said the US was urging the Chinese to exercise restraint in dealing with the current round of protests.

Earlier in the day, Mr Brown told the British Parliament that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had told him there could be dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Mr Brown said, "The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said - that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence - he would be prepared to enter into dialogue." The British Prime Minister said he had told Mr Wen Jiabao that he would meet the Dalai Lama during a visit to London in May.


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