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Dalai Lama pleads for peaceful dialogue on Tibet

  • Story Highlights
  • Dalai Lama: "I have no desire to seek Tibet's separation"
  • Dalai Lama: Protesters seek "meaningful self-rule" while remaining a part of China
  • Violence erupted amid protests for Tibetan independence earlier this month
  • Bush says he "urged restraint" during a phone call with China's president
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(CNN) -- The Dalai Lama Friday rejected a series of allegations from the Chinese government, saying he does not seek the separation of Tibet and has no desire to "sabotage" the Olympic games.

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Chinese authorities have blamed followers of the Dalai Lama for instigating the unrest that has swept Tibet.

Issuing a statement while traveling in New Delhi, India, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists called on China "to exercise wisdom and to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan people."

Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for violence that erupted amid protests for Tibetan independence earlier this month, but China has drawn international criticism for its crackdown on the protests that began peacefully.

President Bush said Friday he "urged restraint" during a phone conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this week, and noted "that it's in his country's interest" for the government to have representatives "sit down again with representatives of the Dalai Lama."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, appearing with Bush at the White House, also called for meetings between the two sides.

"It's absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet. That's clear-cut. We need to be up-front and absolutely straight about what's going on. Shouldn't shilly-shally about it," Rudd said.

Tibet's government in exile has said the death toll from the protests has reached about 140 over the past two weeks, but China's government restrictions have made it difficult to confirm that number.

Chinese authorities put the death toll at 19 and said most of those killed were "innocent victims" -- Han Chinese targeted by Tibetans.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events. I am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the victims and their families and pray for them," the Dalai Lama said in his written statement Friday.

He added that there is an "urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution through dialogue. Even at this juncture I have expressed my willingness to the Chinese authorities to work together to bring about peace and stability."

He noted repeatedly that he is not a "separatist."

"Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek Tibet's separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples," he wrote.

Instead, protesters seek "meaningful self-rule" while remaining a part of China, he added.

And, he said, "despite my repeated support for the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities, with the intention of creating a rift between the Chinese people and myself, the Chinese authorities assert that I am trying to sabotage the games."

The protests -- which began on the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising -- have threatened to overshadow Beijing's role as host of the Summer Olympic Games in August.

In his statement, the Dalai Lama complained the Chinese state-run media's coverage "of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with unpredictable long-term consequences. This is of grave concern to me."

China's state-run media, however, have accused some Western news agencies -- including CNN -- of distorting coverage of the riots to make China look bad and the protesters look like innocent victims.

A headline Friday on the English Web site of China's official Xinhua news agency read "'Anti-CNN' Web site reflects Chinese people's condemnation." The article offered a link to a site in which Chinese bloggers criticize CNN's coverage.

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In a statement, CNN said, "We have provided comprehensive coverage of all sides of this story," adding that the network's "reputation is based on reporting global news accurately and impartially." Read the full statement

Earlier this week, China offered some media organizations -- not including CNN -- a carefully managed tour of Tibet's capital, but ran into a public-relations roadblock when a group of Buddhist monks began screaming protests at a holy shrine. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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