Norway trying to broker peace between China and Tibet


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First published: 04 Jun 2008, 12:19

Norway reportedly has been conducting top-secret diplomacy to resolve the lengthy and bitter conflict between Chinese authorities and the exiled Tibetan government and its spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama. Two state secretaries in the Foreign Ministry are said to be heavily involved.

Newspaper VG reported on Wednesday that the efforts to bring officials from China and the exiled government of Tibet together have gone on for years.

VG cited sources in Washington who also said that various regimes within the US State Department have been kept aware of the peace efforts.

Only a handful of people have been made aware of the diplomatic activity, said to be a combination of brokering and paving the way for contact between the two sides.

Chinese authorities have reportedly demanded the secrecy, because they otherwise have publicly taken a hard line against Tibet and repeatedly claimed that it's always been a part of China. The government in Beijing therefore has taken the stand that there's nothing to negotiate.

State secretaries Raymond Johansen and Vidar Helgesen of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry have nonetheless steered efforts towards some sort of reconciliation between Chinese and Tibetan authorities, reports VG. Meetings have gone on both in Norway and abroad, where Norwegian diplomats have had talks with Chinese officials and representatives of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

In one case, Johansen traveled to Geneva on business and then took a side trip to "a neighbouring country" where he is said to have met with the brother of The Dalai Lama at a castle. The Norwegian and Chinese foreign ministers also have had confidential talks, wrote VG.

In another case, a special position allegedly was created for a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Oslo. The university wasn't aware, however, that the position was actually a cover for the scholar's real mission in Norway, which was to advise Norwegian diplomats based on his contacts in Beijing and his knowledge of Tibet and its culture.

American sources have allegedly praised Norway's "wisdom" and "creativity" in moving the secret diplomacy forward. Johansen declined any comment.

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