Brown Says China May Hold Talks with Dalai Lama

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said China's prime minister may hold talks with the Dalai Lama.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao may hold talks with the Dalai Lama. Shaun Curry/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption Shaun Curry/Getty

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

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.