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China seeking "positive outcome" from Tibet talks

May 5, 2008

By John Ruwitch

SHENZHEN, China Sun May 4, 2008 (Reuters) - China's president said he
was hoping for "positive results" from talks with envoys of the Dalai
Lama, which opened on Sunday, but state media kept up a barrage of
attacks on Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

"(I) hope contacts this time will yield positive results," China's state
news agency Xinhua quoted Hu Jintao as saying.

The fence-mending talks between Chinese officials and the two aides of
the Dalai Lama, the first since an eruption of Tibetan protests and
deadly riots in March, began behind closed doors in the city of
Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.

The unrest, the most serious challenge to Chinese rule in the
mountainous region for nearly two decades, prompted anti-China protests
around the world that disrupted the international leg of the Olympic
torch relay and led to calls for Western leaders to boycott August's
Beijing Games.

"When determining a person's position, we must not only listen to what
he says but also watch his deeds," Hu told a group of Japanese reporters
in Beijing ahead of his Japan visit.

"The door to dialogue has always been open. We sincerely hope the Dalai
side can show through action that they have genuinely stopped separatist
activities, stopped plots to incite violence and stopped to sabotage the
Beijing Olympics," Hu said.

These would "create conditions for the next round of dialogue", Hu added.

Security was tight outside the Shenzhen state guest house where the
talks were believed to have been held, and reporters were not allowed
into the compound.

"The meeting took place this morning. It will continue tomorrow and
possibly the day after ... We are expecting them back on the 7th or 8th
(of May)," Tenzin Taklha, a senior aide to the Dalai Lama, told Reuters
on Sunday.

"We hope the Chinese are serious about the talks and we are hopeful that
the Chinese are willing to look into the problems in Tibet."

Xinhua identified the Chinese negotiators as Zhu Weiqun and Sitar, both
vice-ministers of the Communist Party's United Front Work and
responsible for winning over religious leaders and ethnic minorities.

Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's representatives in
Washington and Switzerland respectively, arrived in China on Saturday.

A commentary in the Tibet Daily, mouthpiece of the Tibet regional
government, accused the Dalai Lama of being a "loyal tool of
international anti-Chinese forces" and attempting to split Tibet from China.


Some analysts said the repeated condemnations in the run-up to the talks
suggested that China was in no mood to compromise following the riots in
Tibet, which stoked Western criticism of its rule there.

The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile has said it "can't have
great expectations" from the talks.

There have been six rounds of dialogue between China and the Dalai
Lama's envoys since 2002, with no breakthrough.

China proposed the latest talks last month after Western governments
urged it to open new dialogue with the Dalai Lama, who says he wants a
high level of autonomy, not independence, for the predominantly Buddhist
Himalayan homeland he fled in 1959.

The Dalai Lama also says that he objects to violence and supports the
Beijing Olympics. China says he is insincere.

China says the rioting in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, in March killed 18
"innocent civilians" and a police officer. It has not specified how
many, if any, protesters have died but says troops used maximum
restraint and avoided using lethal weapons.

Exiled groups say many more Tibetans have died in a crackdown on
rioters. The government-in-exile estimated last week that 203 Tibetans
might have died in the unrest since March 10.

(Additional reporting by Guo Shipeng and Benjamin Kang Lim in Beijing
and Abhishek Madhukar in Dharamsala)

(Writing by Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
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