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Dalai Lama says Tibetans losing faith in talks

Reuters, May 26 2008

SINGAPORE -- Tibetans are losing faith in the Dalai Lama's conciliatory "middle way" because of China's refusal to strike a deal with him over the region's future, the exiled spiritual leader said in an interview published on Monday.

Speaking to the Financial Times during a tour of Europe, the 72-year-old Nobel laureate said he hoped the Chinese government would begin serious negotiations with his representatives over greater autonomy for Tibet in a few weeks' time.

But he indicated that more radical Tibetans, who urge violent confrontation with China, were increasingly losing faith in his strategy of securing autonomy through peaceful dialogue, the Financial Times said.

Asked whether he was losing control over his followers, the Dalai Lama replied: "Yes, naturally. My efforts have failed to bring concrete results, so this criticism is becoming stronger and stronger."

Envoys of the Dalai Lama met Chinese officials on May 4 to discuss recent unrest in Tibet.

Formal roundtable talks are scheduled for the second week in June, the seventh round of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives since 2002.

China is anxious to contain the Tibet issue ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, and the Dalai Lama acknowledged suspicion over China's motives for talking in the FT interview.

"Is this only being done for the Olympics or is it to deal with the real situation in Tibet?" he said. "I do not know."

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, says he wants autonomy, not independence, for the strategic Himalayan region. But China is unconvinced and considers him a separatist.

China accuses followers of the Dalai Lama of instigating rioting in Tibet and nearby areas in March -- the most serious violence there since 1989. He denies the charge.

"We must carry forward that just cause through non-violent principles," he told the FT.

But he warned that in recent times, many Tibetans had been showing "clear signs of frustration" with the lack of progress he has been making in talks with the Chinese, the paper said.

"There are many Tibetans who have the view that our non-violent approach is not having an effect." he said.

Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by John Chalmers

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