Beijing, July 14--(AFP) China is not ready to hold talks with the exiled Dalai Lama, despite the Tibetan spiritual leader's repeated pledge not to seek independence for his troubled homeland, European parliament officials said Sunday. "They didn't say no to the talks, they said that if the Dalai Lama fulfils some specified conditions then there will be talks," said Per Gahrton, a Swedish parliamentarian and vice head of a 20-strong European delegation to China.

The group was in China to visit Tibet and urge dialogue between Beijing and the exiled government of the Dalai Lama, but was told by China's parliamentarian head Li Peng and Vice Premier Qian Qichen that Beijing was not ready for talks with the Tibetan leader.

In 1998 Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged to hold a dialogue with the Tibetan leader as long as he renounced independence for Tibet and acknowledged the "one China principle". "In our minds the Dalai Lama met these conditions when he gave a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 24 (2001).

"We told this to Li Peng and Qian Qichen but unfortunately they said the Strasbourg speech was not enough," Gahrton said.

The two Chinese leaders refused to specify the reasons for their denial, Gahrton said. "They create conditions, the Dalai Lama fulfils them and then they say that this is not enough, this is a very serious problem for us," Gahrton said.

The delegation also urged Beijing to hold secretive talks with the exiled Tibetan government in an effort to work out an agreement that could lead to eventual talks.

Besides urging dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's exiled government in Dharamsala, India, the delegation also visited Tibet and toured a prison in Lhasa, while assessing the religious and cultural situation in the Himalayan region.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following an aborted uprising. China has ruled the Himalayan region since 1951.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus