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China Willing to Engage on Tibet: Dalai Lama Envoy

May 11, 2008

May 8, 2008
Filed at 4:10 a.m. ET

DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) - An envoy to the Dalai Lama said on Thursday Chinese negotiators had shown a willingness to engage with the Tibetan side during recent talks, despite major differences on important issues.

"There were strong and divergent views on the nature as well as the causes of the recent tragic events in Tibet," the envoy, Lodi Gyari, said in a statement issued in Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

"These views were expressed in a frank and candid manner."

Each side exchanged "concrete proposals which can be part of a future agenda," Lodi Gyari said, adding that the next meeting should not be delayed.

"We will only announce the date after we have discussed with our counterparts and both sides have agreed," he said.

China says the "Dalai Lama clique" was responsible for the disturbances in Tibet and protests over the Olympic torch, which reached the top of Mount Everest on Thursday.

The Chinese state-run media this week accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of trying to blacken China's name and prevent its rise, days after the two sides held talks.

Analysts say this conflicting stand of China of maintaining a hardline public face at the same time as offering talks was a common practice.

Lodi Gyari said the Tibetan side had categorically rejected the Chinese accusations the Dalai Lama was behind demonstrations and unrest in Tibet which began in March.

Instead the team of two envoys had argued that events in Tibet were "a clear symptom of deeply felt grievances and resentment of the Tibetans" towards Chinese government policies going back decades.

"The task at hand is to address the legitimate concerns of the Tibetan people in a realistic and constructive way," Lodi Gyari said.

"Despite major differences on important issues, both sides demonstrated a willingness to seek common approaches in addressing the issues at hand," he said.

He said the Tibetan side had appealed for an end to "the current repression" throughout Tibet, the release of prisoners and proper medical treatment for those injured in the recent unrest.

"We welcome the recent statement of President Hu Jintao that his government is 'serious' about the dialogue and his acknowledging that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is being 'conscientious and serious'," he said.

The envoy also called for an end to China's "patriotic re-education" campaign, which he said was deeply resented by the Tibetan people.

On Thursday climbers wearing red brought the Olympic flame to the summit of Mount Everest, unfurling the Chinese national flag, the Olympic flag and a flag bearing the Beijing Olympic logo, and shouting joyously into a TV camera.

But Tibetan groups said they planned prayer vigils around the world later in the day to mourn those killed in protests in Tibet.

(Writing by Simon Denyer, Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee)
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