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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Friday, May 16, 2008

TIBET

Spiritual leader hits China's policy

FRANKFURT, Germany — The Dalai Lama criticized China's suppression of unrest in Tibet and insisted yesterday that the region wants to live in peace with Beijing under genuine autonomy.

"We are not seeking independence," the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said at the start of a five-day visit to Germany. "Since we have a multicultural heritage and rich Buddhist tradition, we need genuine autonomy."

But he criticized China's approach toward unrest in Tibet and its sympathizers elsewhere in the country.

"Demonstrations are happening in Tibet and China and some are suppressed, which is very sad," he said.

Protests against Chinese rule began in March in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

PHILIPPINES

Government, rebels meet for talks

OSLO — The Philippine government and the rebel National Democratic Front (NDF) met in Norway for three days of informal peace talks ending yesterday, the first such meeting in almost three years, Norwegian diplomats said yesterday.

"The [government of the Philippines] and the NDF have exchanged views on the status of the peace process," the Norwegian foreign ministry said in a statement. "The parties have agreed to meet again, and have invited Norway to facilitate a meeting later this year."

The military wing of the NDF has waged an armed rebellion to set up a Maoist state in the Southeast Asian country that has killed more than 40,000. Since 1986, Manila has held on-and-off peace talks with the NDF.

MALAYSIA

Government mulls sex-ed course

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's government might institute sex education for some high-school graduates, a turnaround in this conservative Muslim-majority nation.

Authorities are considering teaching sex education to teenagers when they undergo national service after leaving school, Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, director general of the National Service Department, said this week.

Ng Yen Yen, the minister who announced the proposal, said sex education, including lectures about preventing AIDS, could shield youngsters from unhealthy activities.

Tens of thousands of boys and girls ages 17 and 18 are selected at random each year to participate in the government's national service programs.

Sex is often a sensitive subject in Malaysia, where unmarried couples can be fined for kissing and hugging in public.

The Cabinet approved guidelines for sex education two years ago, but activists say the courses have not been implemented. Officials had suggested teaching students how to protect themselves from sexual predators, reckless behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.

From staff reports and wire dispatches