China floats inviting Dalai Lama to Olympics: Tibet MP

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A senior Chinese official has asked whether Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama would agree to attend the Beijing Olympics to ease recent tensions, a Tibet government-in-exile legislator said on Monday.

Khedroob Thondup, a member of Tibet's parliament-in-exile, seen in Taipei August 7, 2007. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The Dalai Lama would consider going, the law maker said.

Khedroob Thondup, a Taipei-based member of Tibet’s parliament-in-exile, said a senior leader in Beijing had called him about two weeks ago to “sound out” the Olympic visit idea. He did not identify the leader.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for unrest in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China since mid-March.

The gesture suggest that Beijing seeks to show the world that it can get along with Tibetan leaders following a world opinion backlash over China’s handling of the Tibet violence.

“If they want to invite His Holiness to the Olympics, that would be a big change,” Thondup told Reuters, referring to the Dalai Lama. “I’m sure he would consider this.”

China has repeatedly lashed out at 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 Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics and led to calls for Western leaders to boycott the August Games.

But Thondup said he didn’t expect any results from ongoing talks between the government-in-exile and Chinese leaders because of lack of an agenda or consensus. The two sides met last week and are expected to hold another round before the Olympics, he said.

“It’s a blame game,” Thondup said. “There’s no real substance.”

There have been six rounds of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama’s envoys since 2002, with no breakthrough.