November 23, 2008 / 11:49 AM / 11 years ago

Dalai Lama rules out retirement and reaffirms middle way

DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama ruled out retirement Sunday and reaffirmed the support of Tibetan exiles for his “Middle Way” approach to China.

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, speaks during a news conference in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala November 23, 2008. The Dalai Lama ruled out retirement on Sunday and reaffirmed the support of Tibetan exiles for his "Middle Way" approach to China. REUTERS/Abhishek Madhukar

The Tibetan spiritual leader said new policy options on China could be considered in the future.

His statements came a day after Tibetan exiles decided to stick to the “Middle Way” approach to China in a six-day meeting, after a lack of progress in autonomy talks frustrated the Dalai Lama and led him to call for a review of his stand.

The 73-year-old leader told a news conference that he would not retire, putting an end to speculation about his future after he was hospitalized with abdominal pains earlier in the year.

“There is no point, or question of retirement,” he said.

“It is my moral responsibility till my death to work for the Tibetan cause.”

He said success could also be achieved by pursuing non-violence.

The Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach abandoned the dream of an independent Tibet in favor of seeking greater autonomy within China through dialogue.

“Total independence is not practical,” the Dalai Lama added.

“Majority of views have come up supporting the Middle Way path to the Tibetan issue ... which is right,” the Tibetan spiritual leader told a meeting of exiles in northern India.

“With regard to the meeting, I can say concrete things were not expected. However, various options have come out. This is not something we decide on the spot.”

“Wait for another month and then we will talk.”

Tibetan exiles held a six-day meeting this week in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.

“My faith is getting thinner in the Chinese government ... My trust in Chinese public is strong,” the Dalai Lama said.


Tibetan exiles said after the meeting they could start more radical protests and demand independence if China doesn’t respond to the “Middle Way.”

But they did not specify a deadline, saying a timeframe would be either made by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan parliament or the cabinet.

The Dalai Lama said the Tibetan nation was close to a “death sentence,” and warned Tibetans to unite in their struggle.

“In the next 20 years we must be careful in our actions and planning. Otherwise there is great danger to the Tibetan community.”

The exiled government’s cabinet consulted thousands of Tibetans inside Tibet before a global conclave of exiles met this week to take a stand.

Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama fled the mountainous region in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama said a crucial meeting of more than 100 international support groups to be held in Delhi later this month could provide a better picture of the way forward.

“End of this month, there will be another meeting where we will see how to go,” the Dalai Lama said.

“Tibetan issue depends on neighbors and whole world. It is time to look at it holistically.”

Additional reporting by Tenzin Pema and Abhishek Madhukar

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