Written Answers. - Tibetan Problem.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

135 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the proposals put forward by the Dalai Lama which could lead to a peaceful settlement of the Tibetan problem including negotiations without preconditions, creation of mutual trust and the end of repressive policies, Chinese control of foreign affairs and defence, Tibetans to have full control of internal affairs, eventual transformation of Tibet into a zone of peace, protections of Tibet's natural resources and negotiations which comprise the whole of Tibet; his views on these proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18332/98]

The Government holds both the person and office of the Dalai Lama in the highest regard and considers him to be a significant force for moderation in present circumstances. I believe that the proposals which he has put forward are reasonable and I hope that they will be given serious consideration by the Chinese authorities.

During my visit to the People's Republic of China last February, I urged the then Chinese Foreign Minister to enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama without preconditions as the best means of protecting the human rights of the Tibetan people and of achieving a peaceful settlement to the issue of Tibet. The Taoiseach took a similar approach with Premier Zhu Rongji in the course of his visit to China last month.