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Dalai Lama Says Future China Dialogue Possible

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/12/09; December 9, 2001.]

Nobel Institute to Promote Democracy in China

Oslo Saturday, December 08 (Reuters) - The Nobel Peace Prize will try to promote democracy in China in the 21st century and may focus on new areas including the environment and the media, a guardian of the award said on Saturday.

Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, told about 30 laureates at the biggest gathering of past winners in history that human rights campaigners were also likely to win more prizes in coming decades.

Speaking at celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the first award in 1901, he said China's communist leaders were the main exception to a global shift towards democracy since the end of the Cold War.

"Sooner rather than later the [awards] committee should speak out against the regime in Beijing, despite the improvements that have been made in recent decades," he said.

Chinese dissidents have been nominated in recent years and the awards committee annoyed Beijing by awarding the 1989 prize to Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, who was in the audience on Saturday.

Mr. Lundestad also said "there will be many more human rights prizes" and the prize would expand to "explore the link between peace and the environment and the link between peace and news reporting."

"In the past [the] BBC would have been an obvious candidate in this field," the speech said. "Now there are many, but less obvious candidates."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the winner of the 2001 prize together with the United Nations, arrived in Oslo ahead of a glittering centenary awards ceremony on Monday. But the laureates, including former Polish President Lech Walesa and Guatemalan Indian rights campaigner Rigoberta Menchu, failed to agree a common recipe for ending war, poverty and injustice after three days of talks ended on Saturday.

"We're still in consultations," said Mairead Corrigan, who won the 1976 prize for efforts to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and had urged laureates to agree a text.

Mr. Lundestad played down the lack of a final statement. "We had no expectations that people would unite behind a dramatic declaration that could change the world. That would be illusory," he told reporters.

Laureates often had little in common except the prize, he said, and past winners ranged from Mother Teresa to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Lundestad said many laureates signed a separate statement already agreed by more than 100 Nobel winners in Stockholm that calls for an assault on poverty and criticizes U.S. environmental and missile defence policies.

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