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China to Resume Talks with Dalai Lama

July 2, 2008

By Howard W. French
The New York Times
June 30, 2008

SHANGHAI -- China said Sunday that it would soon resume talks with
representatives of the Dalai Lama, weeks before the start of the Olympic Games.

According to the state-run news agency, Xinhua, the agreement to
resume the talks in early July follows a request from the Dalai Lama,
the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

"Our door is always open for the dialogue with the Dalai Lama," the
agency quoted a government spokesman as saying. The government said
it hoped "that the Dalai Lama would treasure this opportunity and
give positive response to the requirements of the central
authorities," Xinhua said.

Thupten Samphal, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama's government in exile
in Dharmsala, India, confirmed that talks would be held "soon" and
that officials of the government in exile would meet Monday to
discuss logistics, The Associated Press reported.

Talks had been scheduled between the sides in early June but were
called off after the earthquake that struck Sichuan Province on May
12. Dates for the new talks have not been disclosed.

The rescheduling of the talks was announced during a visit to China
by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The United States and many
other countries have urged China to resume discussions with the Dalai Lama.

In March, protests and riots spread across Tibet and to neighboring
provinces after monks who marched to seek the return of the Dalai
Lama were arrested in Lhasa, Tibet's capital.

China's government responded with a crackdown in which an
undetermined number of people were killed. The government closed the
province to foreigners, including independent observers. Last week,
the government announced that foreign tourism had resumed.

Chinese officials also seem eager to present a picture of normality
to the outside world as the Aug. 8 start of the Olympics nears. After
the crackdown, several foreign leaders said they would not attend the
Games unless there was a substantial improvement in the Tibet situation.

China has faced opposition to its rule over Tibet since the Dalai
Lama fled to India in 1959, after a failed uprising by Tibetans.

International human rights groups say China has tightly restricted
religious freedoms and enacted other policies that threaten Tibet's
indigenous culture. Many Tibetans say China's economic plans for the
province are based on increased migration to Tibet by Han Chinese,
the country's ethnic majority.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of supporting secession by Tibet.
Chinese officials have also accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding
the March uprising, a charge he denies.
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