Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno stopped short of criticizing China for a violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters this month.
Stagno said he was “worried” about the violence, and he called for dialogue between China and Tibetan leaders. But he did not directly condemn China, and he rejected calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics this summer.
“We think each issue should be addressed separately,” he said. “We have to respect the Olympic spirit.”
The protest began March 10 to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against China’s rule of Tibet. As protestors grew unruly – vandalizing shops and terrorizing Chinese residents – China’s paramilitary police cracked down, according to press reports.
China says 19 people were killed at the hands of Tibetan mobs, while Tibetan exile groups say about 100 people died, most of them Tibetan victims of security forces, according to the news agency Reuters.
Stagno said he discussed human rights issues with Chinese Ambassador Wang Xiaoyuan at a meeting Monday. He added that he respected both China’s “territorial integrity” – Tibet is part of China – and Tibet’s right to spiritual and cultural diversity.
The United States, Britain and Germany have condemned China for using force against Tibetan protestors, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy went further, suggesting France might boycott the Olympics opening ceremonies on Aug. 8.