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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Chinese Officials, Envoys of Dalai Lama to Meet in Beijing

July 2, 2008

By Jill Drew
The Washington Post, Foreign Service (USA)
June 30, 2008

BEIJING, June 30 -- Envoys of the Dalai Lama arrived in Beijing
Monday to open a new round of formal talks with Chinese government
officials on easing tensions over Tibet.

No agenda was released for the talks, scheduled for Tuesday and
Wednesday. Indications are that the delegations will focus on
re-establishing calm and improving conditions for Tibetans across the
Himalayan plateau before the start of the Summer Olympic games in
Beijing in August.

"The Dalai Lama has instructed the envoys to make every effort to
bring about tangible progress to alleviate the difficult situation
for Tibetans in their homeland," said a statement issued by his
government in exile in Dharmsala, India.

China has come under harsh international criticism for its crackdown
following the March 14 riot in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, when it
arrested thousands and sealed off large portions of several Western
provinces that are ethnically Tibetan. Exile groups say at least 125
protests have broken out since March against Chinese rule, the most
significant unrest in nearly 20 years.

Although Chinese officials continue to vilify the Dalai Lama publicly
-- most recently, on Sunday, the state-run New China News Agency
published a commentary that called him a "flunky" -- a spokesman for
the Dalai Lama said he was heartened by reports that China has
released about 1,000 Tibetans who had been arrested after the
protests. He said he was also encouraged by Chinese President Hu
Jintao's recent comments that he was serious about the Tibetan dialogue.

It is unclear how many Tibetans remain in Chinese custody, but exile
groups say thousands remain unaccounted for amid a climate of fear.

This will be the seventh round of talks since formal discussions
began in 2002 between China and the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in
1959 after a failed, armed uprising against Communist rule. Previous
rounds ended with little progress on bedrock issues such as what
constitutes autonomy for people in a "Greater Tibet" and under what
conditions the Dalai Lama could return.

Although the Chinese label him a "splittist," the Dalai Lama has said
repeatedly that he does not seek independence from China. That
position was underscored in the statement released by his office
confirming the talks: "It is hoped that this round of talks will
contribute in resolving the long simmering issue through dialogue in
the interest of stability, unity and harmony of all nationalities in
the People's Republic of China."

The U.S. and European Union governments issued a statement last month
insisting that dialogue between China and the Tibetan envoys be
"substantive, constructive and results-orientated," and not just
another piece of window-dressing to ease international criticism in
the run-up to the Olympics.

"Foreign governments should not rush into positively endorsing this
latest round of talks without urging the Chinese government to make
the talks results-orientated," said Matt Whitticase, spokesman for
the London-based Free Tibet Campaign.

Talking to reporters after meeting with the Chinese foreign minister
on Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States
continues to be concerned about the situation in Tibet and wants to
encourage the dialogue.

In his comments after the meeting, Yang Jiechi, the foreign minister,
again used harsh language to refer to the Dalai Lama. "The Dalai's
side should stop his activities designed at splitting China, and the
Dalai side should stop masterminding and plotting violence and should
stop disruptive activities against the Beijing Olympic Games," he said.

As the August opening ceremonies approach, China is eager to project
that things are calm in Tibet. China last week reopened Tibet to
foreign tour groups, and the Chinese media have published several
articles reporting that Lhasa and other Tibetan areas have returned to normal.

Government officials told foreign journalists they would once again
consider applications for permits to report in the region. An
official at the foreign affairs bureau in Lhasa said applications
could take up to 20 days to process, and it remains unclear what
restrictions will be placed on reporters, who must detail on their
application every place they wish to visit and every person they will
interview.

But international pressure continues in some quarters. Just last
week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation to build a consulate in
Lhasa, setting aside $5 million for its construction even though the
Chinese have never been willing to allow such a presence there. Part
of the emergency supplemental spending bill passed by the House
earlier this month, the legislation instructs the State Department to
approve the building of any new Chinese consulate in the United
States only after the Chinese approve a U.S. consulate in Lhasa.
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