Washington, Mar 27: US President George W Bush has urged China to re-open dialogue with Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Bush called his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and emphasized his concerns about the unrest in Tibet and urged him to ease access for journalists and diplomats. Foreign reporters have been barred from visiting Tibet and neighbouring Chinese provinces with large Tibetan populations that have been affected by the unrest, making it nearly impossible to verify the number of dead and arrested independently.
"The President pushed very hard on the need for restraint, the need for consultation with representatives of the Dalai Lama. As you know, there have been consultations between Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama in the past. Those have been suspended. The President urged that those be restored as part of the process for Chinese authorities addressing, reaching out to and addressing the grievance of the people in Tibet", said U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.
"I thought it was interesting that President Hu said that the government was willing to continue contacts in consultation with the Dalai Lama but again, he said, there's an abandonment of Tibetan independence and stopping activities that involved crimes and the use of violence. And of course, as you know, the Dalai Lama has been very public in his views on both the issue of independence and the use of violence" Hadley added.
Protests against Beijing's rule of Tibet began in Lhasa on March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese suppression. The Dalai Lama is ready to have a dialogue with Beijing, and on Tuesday reiterated a pledge to resign as the spokesman of the Tibetan people if they engaged in violent anti-Chinese protests.
Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of being behind the demonstrations, the biggest against China for 20 years, in which several people have died. China says 19 people have been killed by rioters incited by Tibetan separatists, while the Tibetan Government-in-exile says about 140 people have been killed in a crackdown on protesters by Chinese security forces.