Dalai Lama happy to go to Olympics if talks work
LONDON (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said on Wednesday he would be happy to go to the Beijing Olympics if invited but would attend only if talks with Chinese officials helped improve the situation in Tibet.
Envoys of Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader met Chinese officials on May 4 to discuss recent unrest in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, visiting Britain, said the next formal roundtable talks would be in the second week of June -- the seventh round of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama's envoys since 2002.
He said he had not received a formal invitation to the Olympics in August.
"Some individual Chinese said they very much want me to go there. Then I said, yes, I'm happy to go there, but this is entirely dependent on our meeting," he told a news conference.
"If the meeting becomes something concrete, constructive, and in the meantime the situation inside Tibet improves, and it appears some kind of long-term solution happens, then I am ready to go there, if the invitation comes," he added.
A Taipei-based Tibet government-in-exile legislator said last week that a senior Chinese official had asked whether the Dalai Lama would agree to attend the Olympics to help ease recent tensions.
China has repeatedly criticized the Dalai Lama for a deadly March 14 riot in the region's capital Lhasa and for subsequent scuffles or protests in Tibetan areas of China, which took control over the mountainous territory in the 1950s.
The recent unrest, the most serious challenge to Chinese rule in the region for nearly two decades, prompted anti-China protests that disrupted the international leg of the torch relay for the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics and led to calls for Western leaders to boycott the Games.
The Dalai Lama had strong praise for China's relief effort after the earthquake in Sichuan province. He called the government's handling of it "transparent" and "wonderful".
The Dalai Lama, who will meet Gordon Brown on Friday at the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, said his visit to London was "non-political".
Opposition politicians criticized Brown for not meeting the Dalai Lama at his Downing Street office, saying he feared upsetting Beijing.
The Dalai Lama urged Britain and other Western countries to be frank with Beijing and put human values above economic ones.
"If you are a true friend, a close friend, then it is important to make clear the wrong things about your friend in a friendly manner," he said. "The economy is important, but human values are more important. Human issues like human rights."
"While you are making close relationship in the business field, there is no point in forgetting about principles."
(Editing by Ralph Boulton)
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