April 22, 2008 / 5:42 AM / 10 years ago

Dalai Lama meets U.S. envoy; asks for help

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama told the U.S. special envoy for Tibet on Monday he appreciated U.S. concern with China’s handling of the political unrest in Tibet and said “we need your help.”

<p>The Dalai Lama (L) meets with Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. under secretary of the State Department for Global Affairs and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan April 21, 2008. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and Paula Dobriansky, the envoy, met in private on the University of Michigan campus, but addressed reporters briefly beforehand.

The two entered the room holding hands and Dobriansky said the administration “has expressed its concern about the situation in Tibet and has urged restraint.”

She said President George W. Bush “has been a steadfast supporter of the need for dialogue between his holiness and Chinese leaders ... we see a dialogue as an important means and way to go forward.”

The 72-year-old Dalai Lama said he was surprised Dobriansky came to Michigan to see him during his U.S. tour.

“I want to express my deep appreciation to your government, your president and State Department and secretary of state and yourself (for) always showing genuine concern,” he said.

The Dalai Lama concluded with, “At this moment we need your help.” He did not elaborate.

The State Department said Dobriansky reiterated Washington’s support for a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China’s leaders.

They also discussed the situation in Tibet and the need for China to permit journalists and others reasonable access to all Tibetan areas, the State Department said.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of being behind the March 14 riots in Lhasa and unrest that followed in other ethnic Tibetan areas, as part of a bid for independence and to ruin the coming summer Olympic Games in China.

He has denied a role in the unrest, and says he only wants autonomy for Tibet. China says 19 were killed in the unrest but exiled Tibetans give a far higher total.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India after a failed uprising against communist rule in 1959, eight years after the Chinese military marched in to annex Tibet.

Written by Michael Conlon in Chicago; Editing by Andrew Stern and Sandra Maler

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