Brown Says China May Hold Talks with Dalai Lama
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that the Chinese government is willing to hold discussions about Tibet with exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
Brown said China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao set two conditions for the talks, which have already been met.
"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 — that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Brown told parliament.
Brown said during a conversation with Wen on Wednesday that he made it clear the violence in Tibet must end.
Protests against Chinese rule reached a peak Friday in a riot in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile — based in the Indian town of Dharamsala — said 99 people died when Chinese security forces tried to break up the riot. The Chinese government put the death toll at fewer than 20.
The official China News Service reported that 160 Lhasa rioters had so far given themselves up to authorities. The Tibet government set a deadline of midnight Monday for those involved to surrender or face harsh punishment.
On Tuesday, Wen accused the Dalai Lama's supporters of organizing the violent clashes in hopes of sabotaging the Olympics and bolstering their campaign for independence in the Himalayan territory.
The protests, which are the most serious challenge to China's rule in the region in almost two decades, are forcing human rights campaigners to re-examine their approach to the Aug. 8-24 games.
The Dalai Lama has said he wants only greater autonomy for his homeland, not independence from China.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government insisted that the unrest in Tibet would not deter plans to take the Olympic torch to the top of Mount Everest.
Brown plans to meet with the Dalai Lama when the Buddhist leader visits London in May — a move that could undermine Brown's efforts to strengthen relations with China.
Brown visited Beijing in January, stressing that Britain is open to Chinese trade and investment and lobbying for China's new $200 billion sovereign wealth fund to open an office in London.
From NPR staff and wire reports
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