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Activists urge Obama to discuss Tibet with China

November 11, 2009 10:16 IST

An advocacy group working for the rights of Tibetan, led by Hollywood actor Richard Gere, has asked United States President Barack Obama to pursue action on Tibet when he meets Chinese leaders in Beijing next week.

"If by not meeting (in October 2009) with His Holiness (the Dalai Lama), you intended to signal to General Secretary and President Hu Jintao that you expect an equally significant action from the Chinese government, there are a number of specific objectives that should be pursued," Gere said in a letter to Obama on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet.

Founded in 1988, ICT is the world's largest Tibet-related private non-profit group that works towards promoting democratic freedoms for Tibetans, ensuring their human rights and protecting Tibetan culture and environment.

Gere, in the letter, dated October 31 but released on Tuesday, asked Obama to pursue two specific initiatives at the summit.

These initiatives include an offer of third party assistance to the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama in defining a common goal for their dialogue, and an invitation for the Dalai Lama to visit China.

"As you are aware, the Tibetan movement, its sincere supporters and the human rights community have been alarmed and disappointed by your decision not to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his October visit to Washington," it said.

"However, having established a good and direct dialogue with your Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, we viewed it as appropriate and correct that they were sent to India on your behalf to explain your position to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person," Gere wrote.

"We urge you to make this offer to President Hu, and subsequently to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, during your meeting with him after the summit," he said.

The letter acknowledges the magnanimous approach that the Dalai Lama took to the President's proposal that they meet only after the US-China Summit.

"We have always believed that America is essential to progress on Tibet. At the November summit, we urge you to bring the weight of your high office, the will of the American people, and your considerable commitment to human rights, non- violence and peace to help move ahead on this very important issue," the letter concludes. 

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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