June 12, 2008 / 8:33 AM / 10 years ago

Dalai Lama hopes China talks will resume in July

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama hopes postponed talks between China and his envoys will resume next month, he said on Thursday, adding he supported China’s desire for stability but that it must come “from the heart not the gun.”

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a speech during a news conference in Sydney June 12, 2008. The Dalai Lama is in Sydney until June 15. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

The talks aim to mend fences with the Tibetan spiritual leader, who fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for the strategic Himalayan region, but Beijing brands him a “splittist” or separatist.

Asked in Australia when the talks would resume, the Dalai Lama told a news conference: “Maybe next month.”

Chinese officials met the Dalai Lama’s representatives for talks on May 4, but further talks originally set to start on Wednesday were postponed after an earthquake in China in May killed or left missing nearly 87,000 people.

“President Hu Jintao very much emphasizes ... harmonious society,” the Dalai Lama told the news conference. “We fully support that. It is wonderful to have stability and unity. Stability and unity must come from heart not gun.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, speaking at a regular news conference in Beijing, said a resumption of talks was still being negotiated. “The timeframe is still under discussion,” he said.

China blames a “Dalai Lama clique” for violence in Tibet in March and protests that disrupted the Olympic torch relay in several countries.

Beijing has called on the Dalai Lama and his supporters to halt Tibet protests and attempts to “ruin the Olympics” in August in order to create the conditions for future roundtable talks.

The team of two Tibetan envoys said during the May talks that events in Tibet were “a clear symptom of deeply felt grievances and resentment of the Tibetans” towards Chinese government policies going back decades.

“There is some resentment, some dissatisfaction in the minds of Tibetans. From grandparent to parent, from parent to children, children to grandchildren, continuously, this is the problem,” said the Dalai Lama, who is in Australia on a five-day visit.

“Give Tibetans meaningful autonomy, that will satisfy Tibetans,” he said.

The Dalai Lama said he supported the Olympics and called for calm during the Beijing Games.

“The Olympic Games, right from the beginning, we fully support. The torch is part of that. Chinese brothers, sisters, really feel proud of it. We must respect it. Therefore we should not disturb,” he said.

During his visit the Dalai Lama is due to meet Australia’s Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, who is acting head of government while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is overseas, as well as Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

His supporters in Australia have urged Canberra to encourage China to return to talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.

“The Chinese government firmly opposes the Dalai Lama engaging in separatist activities in any country and firmly opposes any country supporting him engaging in separatist activities,” said Qin.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Beck in Beijing; Editing by David Fox

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