China's Hu Calls for Development and Stability in Tibet

Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for reform and development in Tibet as a way of maintaining stability in the Himalayan region.

President Hu met in Beijing Sunday with a delegation of Communist Party leaders from Tibet. Local party chief Zhang Qingli said that three years after deadly riots in the capital, Lhasa, Tibet is still facing what he described as grave challenges from separatists.

The official Xinhua news agency quotes Zhang as saying that authorities and the general public must always keep vigilance for anything that could sabotage stability. He said the majority of Tibetan people are unwilling to suffer from social unrest.

Lhasa was the scene of deadly riots in March of 2008. The government has blamed Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for instigating the unrest with the goal of gaining independence for the region. The Dalai Lama denies the allegation and says he is fighting for Tibet's cultural autonomy.

Zhang Qingli is in Beijing to attend the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

President Hu urged Tibetan officials to pay careful attention to reform in Tibet aimed at boosting its development and maintaining permanent stability there. He also called for greater government funding for remote rural areas of Tibet.