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Consider Tibet as core issue in Sino-India talks

New Delhi: India should consider Tibet as one of the core issues in its discussions with China, Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister-designate of Tibet`s Government-in- Exile, has said.

"Politically, it is a humble request on our part that India consider Tibet as one of the core issues between India and China," Sangay, who assumes charge as Prime Minister on August 8, told PTI in an interview.

He said without the presence of the Chinese army in Tibet, India had a very peaceful border for a long time.

"Now with an assertive Chinese military on the borders and in the sea, many Indians are realising the importance of Tibet, which we have been arguing for years," he said.

Sangay, who was born in Darjeeling and spent the last 16 years in the US, was elected as the Tibetan `Kalon Tripa` or Prime Minister in April after the Dalai Lama decided to give up his political powers earlier this year.

He will be administered the oath of office at a public ceremony at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh on August 8 at 9:09 a.m.

"8/8 (August 8) is considered to be very auspicious by the Chinese and 9/9 stands for longevity. It is very difficult for them to criticise the number eight," he said.

Asked about reaching out to the Chinese leadership to find a solution to the Tibet issue, Sangay said he was willing to meet his Chinese counterpart "anytime, anywhere" but said there was lack of reciprocity from Beijing.

"I am willing to meet with my Chinese counterpart anytime, anywhere. We are willing to find a peaceful, win-win solution to the issue. The issue has always been the lack of reciprocity. Whenever they want to discuss the Tibet issue, we are a willing partner," he said.

In the US, where he was a Senior Fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School, Sangay had organised conferences on Tibet issue and had invited both Tibetan and Chinese scholars to participate.

He was also instrumental in organising a meeting between the Dalai Lama and a number of Chinese scholars at the Harvard University.

"I will continue that kind of communication or dialogue with Chinese students and scholars at every level," he said.

The 43-year-old leader also claims that these interactions have helped him understand how the Chinese think and work. "This experience will be helpful in understanding and analysing how the Chinese system works and how the Chinese people think," he said.

On his priorities during his five-year term as Prime Minister, Sangay said he would strive to restore the freedom for Tibetans and try and ensure the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Striking a more realistic note, he said laying a foundation for a stronger and sustainable Tibetan movement for the next 50 years would be a priority.

"Keeping the Tibet issue alive and creating awareness at the international level is very important," he said.

On the domestic front, Sangay`s thrust will be on improving the education of Tibetans in exile.

"I want to Tibetans to improve on Maths, Science and English language. That would make them get good jobs and help them emerge as effective leaders of the community," he said.


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