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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China Resumes Negotiations With Envoys of Dalai Lama

July 3, 2008

The New York Times
July 2, 2008

BEIJING -- Chinese officials and senior envoys of the Dalai Lama
opened their latest round of negotiations over Tibet on Tuesday, as
international pressure for a breakthrough intensifies ahead of the
Olympic Games.

The discussions, held at an undisclosed location in Beijing, are the
second round of formal talks since March, when anti-Chinese protests
erupted in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and spread to Tibetan regions
of western China. The precise agenda is unknown, but the two sides
have sharp differences over the political status of Tibet and the
possible return of the exiled Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.

Analysts agree that major progress is unlikely, and say that
negotiators are probably talking about far narrower issues, including
a possible plan for more substantive discussions.

In a statement released by the Dalai Lama's office, he said his
envoys would "make every effort to bring about tangible progress to
alleviate the difficult situation for Tibetans in their homeland."

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, declined to comment
on the negotiations in a news conference on Tuesday.

But a day earlier, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said he would
decide whether to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics after
assessing the merits of the talks. He has been an outspoken critic of
China's crackdown against the Tibet protests, though he has moderated
his comments in recent weeks.

"I expect much from them," he said of the talks during a television
interview in France. "I am in contact with the Chinese president, Hu
Jintao, and the Dalai Lama, and I believe that the talks are progressing well."

Last Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also raised the
Tibet situation during a meeting in Beijing with China's foreign
minister, Yang Jiechi. "The United States continues to be concerned
about the situation in Tibet and we want to encourage the dialogue
that has begun there,' Ms. Rice said.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for the violence and demonstrations
in March, accusing him and his followers of orchestrating the
protests in order to destabilize and "split" China before the
Olympics. The Dalai Lama has denied the accusations and has called on
Tibetans to renounce violence. He also has opposed boycotting the
Olympics and said he would attend the opening ceremonies if invited.

The current talks are a continuation of a process that began in 2002
but broke down last summer. China agreed to restart the process in
April, and the two sides met in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. A
follow-up meeting was postponed because of the May 12 earthquake in
Sichuan Province.

Foreign journalists are still forbidden to visit many Tibetan regions
of western China. Pro-Tibet advocacy groups have reported continuing
violent confrontations between Tibetans and security officers.
Authorities also have ordered "patriotic education" campaigns inside
Tibetan monasteries to discipline Buddhist monks. Last month, the
Communist Party boss of the Tibet Autonomous Region elicited
international criticism when he used the Olympic torch ceremony in
Lhasa to criticize the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, China's state news media have continued to attack the
Dalai Lama and question his motives. Global Weekly, a
government-owned international affairs magazine, had a cover story
this week titled, "Open Your Eyes to the Dalai Lama Clique's Next Plot."

But analysts also point to recent signs of possible warming. On June
4, the Dalai Lama led a prayer vigil on behalf of the victims of the
Sichuan earthquake that was attended by officials in the Tibetan
government in exile in Dharamsala, India. He also has sought to tamp
down more confrontational factions in the exile Tibetan community.

China, meanwhile, has reopened Tibet to foreign tourists and says
foreign journalists, if approved, can also visit. The Chinese state
media also reported that authorities had released more than 1,000
Tibetans detained after the demonstrations.

"Over the past two months, both sides have done a lot of work to try
to create a positive ambience," said Laurence Brahm, a businessman in
Beijing who has served as an informal liaison between the sides.

Huang Yuanxi contributed research.
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