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Report: China to hold talks with Dalai Lama envoys

October 30, 2008

The Associated Press
October 29, 2008

BEIJING (AP) -- China's government is planning a fresh round of talks
with Dalai Lama envoys, state media said Wednesday, days after he
expressed dismay over the prospects of progress for greater autonomy in Tibet.

The meeting between the two sides will take place "in the near
future," Xinhua News Agency said without giving a specific date.

Discussions had originally been scheduled for last October but it had
been unclear if they would move forward after the remarks by the
Dalai Lama, who is often demonized by Beijing.

Thupten Samphel, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Tibetan
government-in-exile in northern India's Dharmsala, said he had no
immediate comment.

Quoting an unnamed official, Xinhua said discussions will take place
despite anti-government riots this spring in the Tibetan capital of
Lhasa and "some serious disruptions and sabotages to the Beijing
Olympic Games by a handful of 'Tibet independence' secessionists."

The Dalai Lama and his government should "treasure this opportunity
and make a positive response to the requirements set forth by the
central authorities," the official said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had no details on the talks and
telephones rang unanswered at the United Front Work Department, the
central government department in charge of previous meetings.

Earlier in the week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu urged the
Dalai Lama to "better understand the situation, demonstrate sincerity
and do something good for the Tibetan people in his lifetime."

Wednesday's announcement came a day after Tibetan officials in India
said the Dalai Lama had called a special meeting of Tibetan exile
communities and political organizations to discuss the future amid
foundering talks with China.

The five-day gathering, scheduled for mid-November, could mark a
significant shift in the Tibetan strategy for confronting Beijing,
which has governed the Himalayan region since communist troops
occupied it in the 1950s.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has
followed a "middle way" approach with China, which means he wants
some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice
their culture, language and religion.

But over the weekend, he said at a public function in Dharmsala that
he had "been sincerely pursuing the middle way approach in dealing
with China for a long time now but there hasn't been any positive
response from the Chinese side."

"As far as I'm concerned, I have given up," he said in an unusually
blunt statement.

Relations have been particularly tense this year. In March, peaceful
demonstrations against Chinese rule in Lhasa exploded into violence.
Beijing says 22 people were killed in the riots, in which hundreds of
shops were torched and Chinese civilians attacked.

China then launched a massive crackdown in Tibet and a broad swath of
Tibetan areas in the country's west regions. Tibetan exile groups
said at least 140 people died. More than 1,000 people were detained,
although human rights groups say the number could be higher.

The last round of dialogue -- the seventh since 2002 -- ended in an
impasse in July, with China demanding that the Dalai Lama prove he
does not support Tibetan independence and disruption of the Olympics in August.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said the 73-year-old Nobel peace
prize winner had been "tireless" in expressing his commitment to
nonviolence and had gone out of his way to publicly announce his
support for the games, which were a tremendous source of national
pride for Beijing.

After the last meeting, the Dalai Lama's envoy Lodi Gyari said China
was not serious about resolving the Tibetan issue and unless they had
a change of heart, future talks were "almost pointless."
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