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Julia-Gillard-tibet-2013Dharamshala: Australian Prime Julia Gillard has said she raised the Tibet issue during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 7 - the first day of her six-day visit to China.

Speaking to a press conference after the meeting, Ms Gillard said that she "did raise human rights, with a reference to Tibet," and that, "These discussions are best had in private but, as I indicated, we do raise human rights concerns and I did raise human rights today."

The Australia Tibet Council (ATC) presented Ms Gillard with a letter, prior to her departure for China, urging her to raise the issue of the Tibet crisis with the new Chinese leadership.

ATC’s executive officer Paul Bourke wrote that the situation in Tibet warrants a totally new approach from Xi Jingping, and that, "Unfortunately, instead of seeking to address Tibetan grievances, China's leaders have continued the repressive 'stability maintenance' approach, ramped up anti-Dalai Lama propaganda, criminalized protests and introduced harsh new security measures for the Tibetans."

The Tibet Council said it hoped that Prime Minister Gillard could send the right message to China’s new leadership, while establishing positions on China’s core issues.

"Failure to offer frank advice on the human rights situation in Tibet and in China at large,” the letter continued, “will only ensure the continuity of the decades long repressive policies, undermining basic human values such as freedom, dignity and justice."

The letter followed Tibet Advocacy Day in Canberra, Australia, on March 18, where a group of twelve young Tibetan leaders met with almost 40 parliamentarians.

During the meeting, Tibetan leaders – backed up by thousands of supporters - called for new and increased action on Tibet. Two days later, on March 20 a motion on Tibet was passed in the senate.

Ms Gillard is one of the first world leaders to meet with President XI since he was instated. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State was scheduled to visit China on April 13 and 14.

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