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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama's office: Envoys leave for China for Tibet talks

May 4, 2008

By ASHWINI BHATIA

DHARMSALA, India 2 May 2008 (AP) — Envoys of the Dalai Lama were
traveling to China for talks aimed at ending the crisis in Tibet, the
exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's office said Friday.

The talks would be the first official contact between representatives of
the Tibetan exiles and the Chinese government since protests turned
violent in Tibet in March.

The two envoys will arrive in China on Saturday for "informal talks with
representatives of the Chinese leadership," a statement from the Dalai
Lama's office said. It gave no further details on where or when the
talks would take place.

The representatives would convey the Dalai Lama's "deep concerns," over
China's handling of the situation in Tibet and would put forward
"suggestions to bring peace to the region," the statement said.

Last week, Beijing said that it would meet an envoy of the Dalai Lama.
But China underscored long-established preconditions for negotiations,
including that the Dalai Lama unambiguously recognize Tibet as a part of
China.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet amid a failed uprising in 1959, says he
seeks meaningful autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from
Chinese rule.

China and representatives of the Dalai Lama's government in exile held
six rounds of inconclusive talks that foundered in 2006.

Despite long-running tensions, both sides have kept open back channels
for dialogue, although they do not often talk about them and China does
not acknowledge the existence of formal negotiations. Recent discussions
have been led by the Dalai Lama's special envoy, Lodi Gyari.

Friday's statement said Gyari and another envoy, Kelsang Gyaltsen, would
lead these talks and "raise the issue of moving forward on the process
for a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibetan issue."

Beijing has faced a chorus of calls from world leaders to open a
dialogue. The decision comes as something of a reversal in the face of
Beijing's relentless claims that the Dalai Lama and his followers had
orchestrated March's violence in Tibet.

The recent protests in Tibet marked the most widespread and sustained
action against Beijing's rule in decades, focusing attention on
accusations that China's policies in the Himalayan region are eroding
its traditional Buddhist culture and mainly benefit Chinese who moved
there since its 1951 occupation by Communist troops.

China says 22 people died in violence in Tibet's capital of Lhasa, while
overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number have been killed in
protests and the security crackdown across Tibetan regions of western China.

The crackdown also stirred international protests against China during
the world tour of the Olympic torch ahead of August's Olympic Games in
Beijing. In several cities on the 20-nation tour, the torch relay was
disrupted by pro-Tibet demonstrators.
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