Dalai Lama Would Meet Chinese President

DHARMSALA, India (AP) -- The Dalai Lama offered Thursday to meet with Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao, but said he would not travel to Beijing unless there was a "real concrete development" in relations between the government and Tibet.

Chinese officials said they would talk with the Dalai Lama on condition he "stopped separatist activities" and recognized Tibet and Taiwan as parts of China.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly offered to meet with Chinese leaders and has long maintained he is not seeking independence for Tibet but wants dialogue aimed at giving Tibetans autonomy under Chinese rule.

Beijing, however, has rejected his appeals, hoping that it can bring Tibetans into China's fold through a mixture of economic development and religious and political control.

Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama and his supporters of organizing violent clashes in Tibet in hopes of sabotaging this summer's Beijing Olympics and promoting Tibetan independence.

"I'm always ready to meet our Chinese leaders and in particular Hu Jintao," the Dalai Lama told reporters in Dharmsala, the seat of Tibet's government-in-exile.

Many Tibetans harbor a deep resentment toward Hu, who served as Tibet's Communist Party chief beginning in 1989, marking a return to hard-line policies after a period of relative openness.

"I would go to Peking (Beijing)," the Dalai Lama said. "If I go to Peking, that would be big news and many Tibetans may develop unrealistic expectations. Only if some concrete information comes, I'm ready."

He said he would be happy to meet Chinese leaders elsewhere.

"The whole world knows Dalai Lama is not seeking independence, one hundred times, thousand times I have repeated this. It is my mantra - we are not seeking independence," the Dalia Lama said. "The Tibet problem must be solved between Tibetan people and Chinese people."

The Chinese government said the Dalai Lama's words were not enough.

"For the Dalai Lama, we not only listen to what he says, but more importantly, we focus on what he does," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

During a news conference that grew increasingly testy, reporters pressed Qin for evidence that the Dalai Lama had not met China's conditions for talks, reminding Qin that the spiritual leader has long advocated nonviolence and meaningful autonomy for Tibet, not independence.

"I'm not aware of the situation or what you're talking about," Qin responded bluntly.

The Foreign Ministry also expressed "grave concern" over a planned meeting between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Dalai Lama, telling Brown not to offer support to the exiled leader.

Brown's spokesman Michael Ellam said the British leader told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao he plans to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to London in May

The Dalai Lama has said in the past that he would meet Chinese leaders. His representatives re-established formal contact formal contact with China in 2002 after years of silence. They have met six times since, most recently last June in China.

Brown, who traveled to China in January, said the Chinese premier indicated he is prepared to talk to the Dalai Lama, provided he renounce Tibetan independence and violence.

Tibetan officials in exile say at least 80 people have died in the violence following protests in Tibet that began March 10 on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising. Chinese officials say 16 people were killed.

On Thursday, Chinese officials and media confirmed there unrest had spread from Tibet to neighboring provinces in recent days.

The Dalai Lama said he feared there would be more bloodshed as more Chinese forces were sent into these regions and appealed to the international community to help.

"Please think, visit the helpless, unarmed innocent people who simply love Tibetan culture and are not willing to accept others bullying them. Now they are facing death. So very sad," he said.

The Dalai Lama dismissed the accusations and insults Chinese officials hurled at him this week, which included the Communist Party boss labeling him "a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast."

"As a Buddhist monk, it does not matter what they call me," he said, adding that he believed these comments were meant to stir up anti-Tibetan feeling within China.

"The outside world doesn't believe that I am devil," he said.

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