A British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell has said on December 18, 2003, in Beijing that he has urged the Chinese Government to continue talking with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, as this was the best way to resolve the Tibet issue. Rammell was on a two-day visit to China.

Addressing the media in Beijing, Rammell said, “I argued [that] dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama is the best way forward to actually resolve this.”

He cited Britain’s own experience with Northern Ireland as an example where dialogue worked, according to an AFP report.

Rammell met Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, who is in charge of Western Europe, Arms Control, and Treaty and Law in the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Rammell also raised the issue of the suspended death sentence on Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Rinpoche was accused by the Chinese authorities of being involved in a series of bomb explosions in Kham in eastern Tibet (present-day Sichuan Province.)

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has welcomed the visits of the Dalai Lama’s envoys to China and “continue to encourage the Chinese Government to enter into meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue.”

“Successive British Governments have regarded Tibet as autonomous while recognising the special position of the Chinese there,” the British Foreign Office says.

It adds, “The human rights situation in Tibet shows little sign of improvement. Through ministerial contacts and our Human Rights Dialogue we have raised issues such as restrictions on freedom of religion, failure to safeguard Tibetan culture and traditions, the whereabouts and health of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (the Dalai Lama’s choice as Panchen Lama), the mass migration of Han Chinese into Tibet and the environmental effects of rapid economic development.”