Dalai Lama Shuts Door on Tibet Talks

By: AP / CNN
By: AP / CNN

BEIJING, China (AP) --

A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard at a square by the Potala Palace in Lhasa.

more photos » In a lengthy article, Xinhua News Agency cited past actions and statements attributed to the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner that it said contradicted or undermined his calls for negotiations.

"It was the Dalai Lama clique that closed the door of dialogue," Xinhua said, using China's standard term for the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The statement came a day before the arrival in Beijing of the Olympics torch, which has become a magnet for Tibetan activists and other groups seeking to use the August Games to draw attention to their cause.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating protests in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa and other heavily Tibetan areas that started peacefully among Buddhist monks, but turned deadly on March 14. Beijing says 22 people were killed in Lhasa, while Tibetan exiles put the overall death toll at 140. See images of protests in Tibet »

China's Premier Wen Jiabao told Hong Kong media in Laos Sunday that Lhasa is "basically stable," and that "social order has returned to normal."

Wen reiterated China's position that it is open to talks with the Dalai Lama if he gives up his desire for independence, and acknowledges that Tibet and Taiwan are inseparable from China.

Officials with Lhasa's municipal government described the city as calm Sunday, a day after a protest reportedly broke out at a monastery there. The officials said they were sending text messages to area residents telling them not to "believe or pass on rumors of unrest."

A woman who answered the phone at Lhasa government headquarters said the reported protest on Saturday was merely a rumor.

"You shouldn't believe such things," said the woman, who hung up without giving her name. No new incidents were reported on Sunday.

Xinhua said in another report Sunday that a suspect in the riots confessed that the security department of the Tibetan government-in-exile asked him to distribute leaflets about the "Tibetan people's uprising movement" to monasteries and laypeople in Tibet that encouraged the March 14 riots.

The Dalai Lama has condemned the violence and urged an independent investigation into the protests, the most serious anti-Chinese demonstrations in the region since 1989.

Xinhua said late Saturday police had found guns and explosives at a monastery in Aba county in western Sichuan province, where state media first acknowledged police had fired at protesters March 16, wounding four.

Calls to the monastery rang unanswered and officers who answered the phone at police headquarters in Aba county and the surrounding prefecture said they had no information about the reports.

"The monastery has been very quiet these days," said a woman who answered the phone at county police headquarters. None of the officers gave their names as is common among Chinese government officials.

While Beijing has imposed a massive military clampdown, a new protest was reported to have broken out Saturday in Lhasa as diplomats wrapped up a visit organized by Beijing in an effort to blunt criticism of its handling of the unrest.

According to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, the demonstration at Lhasa's Ramoche monastery lasted several hours. Calls to Ramoche rang unanswered on Sunday and receptionists at hotels in the area said the monastery was closed to the public.

People also protested at the Jokhang Temple, a major Buddhist site in Lhasa, the Tibetan government-in-exile said on its Web site.

Diplomats from the United States, Japan and Europe returned to Beijing on Saturday after a tightly controlled two-day visit to Lhasa.

The diplomats toured damaged areas of the city and met people selected by Chinese authorities, who accompanied them at all times, the American Embassy said in a brief written statement. It gave no other details but repeated Washington's appeal to China to show restraint.

The unrest has been a public relations disaster for communist leaders, who want to use the Olympics to showcase China as a prosperous, stable society.

A group of foreign reporters was taken on a similar trip to Lhasa earlier in the week. That effort backfired when about 30 monks burst into a briefing room shouting that there was no religious freedom in Tibet. Watch a report on a media tour to Lhasa »

The protests, led by monks, began peacefully March 10, on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Tibet had been effectively independent for decades before Chinese communist troops entered in 1950.

The United States and other foreign government's have urged Beijing to talk with the Dalai Lama, who has repeatedly said he would be willing to meet with Chinese officials.

Meanwhile, officials were tightening up security for the Olympic torch's Monday arrival in Beijing, requiring journalists covering the event to pick up their accreditation in person.

The torch is due to arrive in Beijing aboard an Air China plane and be displayed at a gala ceremony in Tiananmen Square, the heart of the Chinese capital. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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