PARIS (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled religious leader, has said he hopes the United States can convince China that he is seeking autonomy rather than independence for his Himalayan region. The Dalai Lama told the French daily Le Figaro in an interview published on Tuesday he will meet Gregory Craig, who was appointed last November special coordinator for Tibetan affairs in the Clinton administration. "I will repeat to him that I do not intend to seek outright independence for Tibet, but rather genuine autonomy," he said. "He can then try to convince the Chinese that I am sincere," he added. The Nobel peace prize winner said he had proposed that China give Tibet autonomy while keeping control over foreign policy and armed forces. China, which has controlled Tibet since 1950, has rejected talks with the exiled leader and says it is winning the battle against separatists. The Dalai Lama welcomed a recent report by the International Commission of Jurists alleging that repression was escalating in Tibet. "I am happy that what we have been clamouring for so long is at last officially recognised," he said. "Since China's invasion, 1.2 million of our fellow citizens have died as direct or indirect victims of China's repression. Thousands of Tibetans are still in prison," he said. Asked about the report's call for a United Na-tions-run referendum to decide the status of Tibet, he said: "As for the referendum, I have long said that I am ready to step aside if the Chinese can prove that Tibetans are happy today." China has slammed the report as an interference into its internal affairs and said its authors were ignorant of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, who has proposed to turn Tibet into a demilitarised and nuclear-free zone, said China had installed nuclear missiles and was storing nuclear waste there. "We know they are storing nuclear waste in caves in northern Tibet, because many animals breed deformed young. This must stop," he said.