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Talks with China welcome, if serious: Dalai Lama

April 27, 2008

Maya Mirchandani
NDTV
Saturday, April 26, 2008 (New Delhi)

The Dalai Lama has welcomed China's decision to hold talks with his
emissaries but said, the dialogue must be serious and not a mere
face-to-face meeting.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency earlier reported that Chinese
officials had decided to meet representatives of the Dalai Lama. But the
Tibetan spiritual leader is yet to receive a formal communication about
the meeting from China.

The olive branch won't break at least for the moment. The Dalai Lama has
welcomed China's readiness to meet with his envoy after weeks of violent
protests, and calls from around the world for dialogue but hopes that
the talks will be serious.

''Of course, talks. It depends on what kind of talks. If (they are)
serious talks, most welcome, just mere seeing face to face, not much
meaning,'' said Dalai Lama, Tibetan Spiritual Leader.

Some say China's decision might be an attempt to appease foreign critics
contemplating a boycott of the Olympic games but the news was welcomed
the world over.

''The Chinese say that they're ready to discuss everything except
sovereignty over Tibet, and so if the concern of the Dalai Lama is, as
he has always stated, the respect for cultural identity, religious
identity and autonomy inside China. I believe, there's real room for a
dialogue,'' said Jose Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission.

The Chinese announcement though stops short of promising to restart
actual negotiations on the key issue of cultural and religious
oppression and reiterates China's position that the Dalai Lama recognise
Tibet as a part of China.

Even though the Chinese press has reported the offer the Dalai Lama's
office though says it's not got any formal communication from the
Chinese government but with these pre-conditions, it could well be an
offer that forestalls any progress.
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