- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001

DHARAMSALA, India (Agence France-Presse) — The new prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile said yesterday he wanted international help to organize bilateral talks with China.
In his first speech since he assumed office last month, Samdhong Rinpoche said he would continue the "middle way" approach propounded by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, calling for talks on "coexisting" peacefully.
"The special coordinator for Tibet in the U.S. government, the European Parliament and other countries who support our cause shall be called upon for genuine and practical help, rather than fulfilling regular protocols, for bilateral talks between Tibet and China," he said in the northern Indian hill station of Dharamsala where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.
"I do not see any alternative to the middle way approach. It is a policy that might not bring any result in the immediate future, but in the long run it is viable."
The prime minister fled to India along with the Dalai Lama and hundreds of compatriots when China crushed an anti-Beijing uprising in Tibet in 1959.
China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what it has described as a "peaceful liberation" and tried to legitimize its rule in 1951 with an agreement that the exiled Tibetan government does not accept because it was signed by Tibetan leaders under duress.
Beijing has ruled the Himalayan region with an iron fist since, with human rights groups reporting widespread abuses and attempts to destroy Tibetan culture.
"Ours is not a case of interethnic fight or a conflict in politics or divided opinions, ours is a fight for a just cause — to bring our rights back," the new prime minister said.
"It is a fight to redeem an opportunity to live a life like fellow human beings and in a Tibetan fashion.
"We do not lack anything in our approach to have a dialogue with the Chinese leadership. I feel, now our task will be to clarify the doubts the Chinese leadership have in our approach."
The Dalai Lama has said his persistent efforts to pursue a substantial dialogue with Chinese leaders had produced no response from Beijing.
The Dalai Lama has proposed sending a full delegation to the Chinese capital, but said Beijing turned down the proposal.
China views the Dalai Lama and his followers as separatists determined on "splitting the motherland" and accuses the spiritual leader of promoting unrest in Tibet.
Samdhong Rinpoche secured 84.5 percent of the 30,000 votes polled in the election, which was the first time that Tibetans had directly elected a head of their exiled government in India.
He said that the Tibetans would not resort to violence in their struggle for their homeland.
"Violence had never brought any good to anybody. History lays many examples before us of the consequences of violence. If violence had to be taken as a strategy by the Tibetan government, I will abdicate from the post."
The prime minister, who was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of 4, will be officially sworn in as prime minister by the Dalai Lama on Wednesday.
He will then form a Cabinet, which has to be approved by the 46-member Tibetan Parliament, which meets for its monsoon session on Sept. 19.


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