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Dalai Lama's envoys begin talks with China

May 5, 2008

May 4, 2008

(CNN) -- Envoys for the Dalai Lama began a series of meetings Sunday
with Chinese leaders, the first time the two sides have come together
since violence broke out in the Tibetan regions of China in March.

The talks began Sunday morning, said Tenzin Takhla, the secretary to the
Dalai Lama, from the northern Indian city of Dharamsala. Later in the
week, the two sides will carry out further meetings, he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao told Japanese reporters Sunday that he hopes
the talks yield positive results.

"I am confident that through joint efforts by both sides, this visit
will be able to achieve the expected results," Hu said, according to a
report by Japan's Kyodo News agency.

When the talks were announced last week, China said it hoped the Dalai
Lama would use his influence to stop anti-Chinese protests that threaten
to disrupt the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the state-run news
agency Xinhua reported.

Protesters supporting the Free Tibet Movement dogged the torch relay
ahead of the Olympics as it made its way around the world. The rest of
the relay will take place within mainland China and its territories. The
torch reached the mainland from Macau on Saturday night.

The talks between the envoys are taking place in Shenzhen, north of Hong
Kong. The location within the city hasn't been made public.

"During this brief visit, the envoys will take up the urgent issue of
the current crisis in the Tibetan areas," Chhime Chhoekyapa, a secretary
to the Dalai Lama, said earlier.

"They will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about the
Chinese authorities' handling of the situation and also provide
suggestions to bring peace to the region."

China has periodically invited representatives of the Dalai Lama to
meetings, but none have taken place since last July.

The March protests -- initiated by Buddhist monks -- began on the
anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule,
which sent the Dalai Lama into exile in northern India.

The pro-democracy protests began peacefully March 14 in the Tibetan
capital of Lhasa, but turned violent as protesters set fire to vehicles
and shops, tear gas filled and streets and gunfire rang out, according
to witnesses, human rights groups and the Chinese state-run news agency,

Beijing blamed followers of the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader, and
said 18 civilians and one police officer were killed.

Tibetan groups said many times that number died in the violence and
subsequent crackdown.

In the wake of the violence, Beijing has been under intense
international pressure to re-open its dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
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