Nobel Laureates Urge China to Open Talks With Dalai Lama

A group of Nobel laureates has condemned China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters and is calling on Beijing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.

The 26 Nobel prize-winners signed a statement released Thursday by Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

The statement protested what it called Beijing's unwarranted campaign against the Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she has contacted her Chinese counterpart to urge restraint in dealing with protests in Tibet.

Rice said Thursday that she spoke to Yang Jiechi on the telephone late Wednesday and encouraged China to open talks with the Dalai Lama.

According to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, Yang told Rice that any country that upholds justice should support China's efforts to maintain social stability and protect the interests of all ethnic groups in Tibet.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Thursday he was "not at liberty" to discuss whether the United States has confirmation of a military buildup in Tibet.

Also Thursday, Tibetan exiles and their supporters in North America and Europe held another day of protests against China's crackdown in Tibet. A German protester was lightly injured after setting himself on fire in front of the Chinese consulate in Berlin.

The German government announced Wednesday that it has suspended bilateral aid talks with Beijing as a result of China's handling of the Tibetan protests.

News reports indicate that foreign corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics are watching the events unfolding in China closely. China's Olympic organizing committee expected to take in around one billion dollars in revenue from commercial sponsorships.