Dalai Lama vows silence ahead of exile meeting

Other News Materials 3 November 2008 10:40 (UTC +04:00)

The Dalai Lama said Monday talks with China about autonomy for Tibet had so far been a "failure" and he plans to remain silent ahead of a special meeting of Tibetan exiles later this month to discuss its future, reported Reuters.

Concern has grown about the diminishing likelihood of a meaningful settlement between China and the Tibetan exiles, even as the Dalai Lama's envoys hold fence-mending talks this week in China.

"Things (are) not going well ... I have to accept failure," the 73-year-old exiled Tibetan leader told a news conference in Tokyo, where he is visiting to give spiritual talks.

"Now I remain completely neutral. If I say I prefer this one, then that may become hindrance, obstacle (for) different opinions (to come) freely."

The Dalai Lama, who had surgery to remove gallstones last month, stood and addressed reporters for about an hour in an energetic voice. He stressed his disappointment with Chinese authorities.

"My trust to the Chinese government now -- thinner, thinner, thinner," he said.

China brands the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a trouble-making separatist and blamed him for riots in Tibet in March, which it harshly repressed.

The crackdown refueled ethnic tensions and Beijing's policy toward the remote Himalayan area was a flashpoint for protest during the Olympic Games and the torch relay.

In the meeting of Tibetan exiles set to take place in Delhi in the third week of November, lawmakers and supporters from other nations will also be invited, the Dalai Lama said.

The meeting, where Tibet's political unrest and its future are to be discussed between those seeking autonomy and independence, could become a turning point as different factions compete for influence over the exile movement.

The Dalai Lama wants a high level of autonomy for Tibet, while many exiled Tibetans who seek independence have expressed frustration with their leader's approach.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. Since then, he has lived in northern India.

Speculation has been growing that he may retire after he was admitted to hospital in August with abdominal discomfort.

Asked about that, the Dalai Lama said he would hand over authority to a local government when a solution is reached.

"I'm looking forward to complete retirement," he said.

"Some people tell me it's impossible the Dalai Lama retire. I tell them my retirement is my human right."