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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China Says No Date for More Talks With Tibet Envoys

May 8, 2008

By Dune Lawrence and Marie-Louise Moller
Bloomberg
Last Updated: May 6, 2008 04:45 EDT

China's Foreign Ministry said no date has been set for more talks between the government and aides to Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, after the two sides met in Shenzhen on May 4.

"I want to stress that this current contact is only the beginning,'' ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing in Beijing today. ``We agreed to continue with the contact when it is appropriate.''

Qin's remarks are the first government comments on talks between Zhu Weiqun and Sitar, an official who uses only one name, and two aides to the Dalai Lama in the southern city of Shenzhen. China said on April 25 it would hold the talks, breaking a deadlock after riots in Tibet prompted global protests at Chinese rule over the territory and the government's handling of demonstrations that started in Lhasa on March 10.

"The central government's contact with the Dalai is sincere,'' Qin said today. ``As long as the Dalai side is sincere, especially in its actions, contact can continue.''

Six trips in as many years by Tibetan envoys to China have made no progress, Kesang Takla, the minister for information and international relations for Tibet's government-in-exile, said in an interview in Brussels yesterday.

"Now when they claim they want to have a dialogue with us, naturally we are a bit skeptical,'' Takla said. The offer "should be in words and deeds, because if it's only words and doesn't happen, then it means nothing.''

'First Step'

The meeting in Shenzhen was a ``good first step,'' Agence France-Presse cited Lodi Gyari, one of the Tibetan envoys, as saying in Hong Kong today.

Calling China's accusation that the Dalai Lama was behind the unrest "ridiculous,'' Takla said the Chinese government hadn't responded to the exiled government's proposal for autonomy for the Himalayan region rather than independence. China accuses supporters of the Dalai Lama of trying to sabotage Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games in August.

The government-in-exile said last week that 203 people were killed since protests against Chinese rule erupted in Lhasa and other areas on March 10. China says 18 civilians and one police officer died in the March 14 violence in the Tibetan capital.

Takla said Tibetans were undergoing a "very harsh form of treatment'' at the hands of the Chinese government, which has administered the territory for more than a half century.

"The whole Tibetan region is like a huge prison with everybody confined to their monasteries or rooms or prisons,'' Takla said in the interview.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said before the meeting in Shenzhen he hoped there would be a ``positive outcome'' from the discussions, according to Xinhua. China has always kept the ``door to dialogue'' open to the Dalai Lama, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dune Lawrence in Beijing at dlawrence6@bloomberg.net, Marie-Louise Moller in Brussels at mmoller2@bloomberg.net.
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