Statement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama after meeting with President Clinton

Washington, DC – I have just met with President Clinton and I am deeply touched by his genuine warmth and interest in the Tibetan situation. As a Tibetan, I am grateful for his continued concern for the plight of the Tibetan people and his efforts to encourage a negotiated settlement to resolve the Tibetan situation. I regard President Clinton as a friend to both the Tibetan and the Chinese people. I have been very pleased to meet again with First Lady Hillary Clinton, whose dedication to humanitarian issues I greatly admire. I am also looking forward to meeting Vice President Al Gore whom I have known for many years and respect as a leader with global vision.

I very much admire President Clinton’s commitment to finding resolutions to conflicts occurring in different parts of the world — from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to the Middle East to relations between Taiwan and mainland China, and to Tibet. It is my belief that economic or military strength alone does not define the greatness of a nation. Assumption of a leadership role in the international community requires unwavering dedication to peace, freedom and justice, a characteristic President Clinton has repeatedly shown to the world.

During our meeting President Clinton briefed me on his meeting with President Jiang Zemin in Beijing in June and about his subsequent efforts to encourage dialogue between the Chinese government and my representatives.

I was encouraged by President Jiang’s willingness to discuss Tibet at length with President Clinton and his public statement that the door is open to dialogue and negotiation. President Jiang has taken a number of steps which not only bode well for China, but also contribute to improving China’s international standing. On Tibet, too, President Jiang has indicated his personal interest.

I have expressed my commitment to the process of dialogue as a means to resolve the Tibetan problem. Therefore, when President Jiang sought public clarifications from me on certain issues during his press conference with President Clinton in Beijing, I did not have any hesitation in welcoming his statement and making clear my readiness to respond. However, I do not wish to make a unilateral statement without the opportunity of prior informal consultation with the Chinese leadership. I believe such an informal consultation needs to take place in order to forestall misunderstanding and to receive a positive response from the Chinese leadership.

I am not seeking independence for Tibet, nor do my actions seek its separation from the People’s Republic of China. I am for autonomy, genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people to preserve their distinct identity and way of life. I do not seek any privileges or position for myself; on the contrary I have made it categorically clear many years back that I do not wish to hold any official position once we have found a solution to the Tibetan issue. I sincerely believe that my Middle Way approach will contribute to stability and unity of the People’s Republic of China. This basic approach was conceived in the early Seventies even when there was no immediate possibility of a dialogue with the Chinese leadership as China was then in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. I adopted this approach because I believed that this was to our long-term mutual interest.

After the experiences of the past four decades or so it is not surprising that there is an atmosphere of deep distrust between Tibetans and Chinese. This distrust will not disappear in a day. It will dissipate only through sincere dialogue and I am ready to respond to President Jiang’s offer to engage in such a dialogue. With goodwill on both sides, with a commitment to non-violence and reconciliation, we can together bring peace and stability to Tibet and lasting harmony between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the United States government and the American people for their understanding and support of the Tibetan people.

The Dalai Lama

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