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Report: Dalai Lama Seeks Dialogue

July 17, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ The Dalai Lama’s exiled government has increased contacts with China in anticipation of reopening a dialogue, a newspaper reported Friday.

In an interview at Ladakh, a Buddhist region of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state, the Tibetan spiritual leader also was quoted by the China Times as saying he has postponed a planned visit to Taiwan indefinitely to avoid provoking China.

``Our contacts with China have increased in the last few months,″ he was quoted as saying. ``We also have expectations of the Chinese government. That’s why I announced an indefinite postponement of my trip.

``I really hope to open dialogue with the Chinese government,″ the Tibetan spiritual leader was quoted as saying.

He said he had consulted Chinese authorities before making his first visit to Taiwan early last year. ``I told Beijing clearly that if China is ready to negotiate with us, I could immediately cancel my trip to Taiwan. But there was no response from the Chinese government. So I went.″

China has ruled Tibet with military force since a 1950 invasion, and claims Taiwan as a secessionist province. It viewed the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan last year as a union of Taiwanese and Tibetan forces trying to break up the motherland.

The Dalai Lama was quoted as saying that the Taiwan and Tibet issues should be separated.

During his recent visit to China, President Clinton urged Chinese President Jiang Zemin to open dialogue with the spiritual leader.

But Jiang said one of the preconditions for the talks would be for the Dalai Lama to recognize Taiwan as a province of China.

In the interview with the China Times, the Dalai Lama said he would have to discuss the precondition with his staff before reacting.

He said he believed Clinton’s comments on the Tibetan issue in China ``will have a positive impact in the long run.″

Although he does not believe Tibet is a part of China, he said, ``we can work together if both sides will benefit from it.″

He said he wanted to go to Taiwan only to preach Buddhism and should not be embroiled in political questions.

``Now this issue has become too complicated, and I must handle it with great care,″ he said.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following an abortive uprising in 1959.

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