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China tells Dalai Lama to 'cherish' planned talks

April 30, 2008

BEIJING April 29, 2008 (AFP) — China on Tuesday urged the Dalai Lama to
"cherish" the opportunity of planned new talks, and restated its
conditions for dialogue that include him ending violence in Tibet ahead
of the Olympics.

"The relevant authorities agreed to have contact with the Dalai Lama,"
foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters, confirming the
planned reopening of talks announced by China's official Xinhua news
agency Friday.

"We hope the Dalai can cherish this opportunity, recognise the situation
and change his position to take concrete measures to stop his criminal
acts of violence, stop his sabotage of the Beijing Olympics and his
separatist activities, so as to create conditions for the next step of

In its announcement, Xinhua said government officials would meet "in the
coming days" with a private representative of the exiled Tibetan
spiritual leader.

However, Jiang said on Tuesday that the timing and format of the planned
talks had yet to be decided.

"According to my knowledge, the specifics of the talks are still to be
further discussed. At present we don't have any details," she said.

The talks would be the first known encounter between the two sides for a
year, and follows last month's deadly unrest in Tibet, which triggered a
sharp military crackdown by Chinese authorities.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for fomenting the unrest and accused him
of doing so in an effort to sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August.

China also insists the Dalai Lama is seeking independence for his homeland.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, has repeatedly
denied all these charges.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending in troops to "liberate"
the remote Himalayan region the previous year.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed uprising.

Jiang denied the decision to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama was a
result of international pressure ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

"The central government's contact and consultation with the Dalai Lama
are completely the internal affairs of China," she told reporters.

"On the issues of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the
Chinese government and its people will never yield to any external
pressure. We have the confidence and the capability to do well in our job."
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