Calls for Tibetan Independence Grow at Conference of Exiles

The prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile says demands for Tibetan independence from China could replace requests for greater autonomy for the region.

Samdhong Rinpoche told reporters in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala Tuesday that if Tibetan exiles meeting there this week decide to change course, the government-in-exile "will gladly follow" their wishes.

But a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry says any attempt to secure independence for Tibet is "doomed."

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called this week's meeting of Tibetan exiles to discuss what approach to take with China.

He recently expressed frustration with a series of talks between Tibetan and Chinese envoys. China has rejected the Dalai Lama's call for greater autonomy for Tibet, saying it is tantamount to independence.

The Nobel peace prize laureate has long sought what has been dubbed as "the middle way" for the remote Himalayan region.

Some Tibetan exiles say his approach has failed and that it should now be replaced by a more aggressive pro-independence stance.

China took control over Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and resettled in Dharamsala after a failed uprising against Chinese communist rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.