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Dalai Lama calls for 'tangible results' in envoys' two-day talks with China

July 2, 2008

The Associated Press (AP)
June 30, 2008

BEIJING (AP) -- The Dalai Lama called Monday for «tangible progress»
in upcoming talks with China, as international pressure builds for
the two sides to ease tensions following anti-government riots that
rocked Tibet.

Two representatives of the Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in
Beijing on Monday evening. Envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen
will meet Chinese

officials for two days of talks beginning Tuesday, said Samdhong
Rinpoche, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government in
exile based in Dharmsala, India.

"This will be the continuation of the formal dialogue which started
in 2002, he said.

The meetings follow informal talks held in early May in the southern
Chinese city of Shenzhen that ended with an offer from Beijing for
future discussions.

"His holiness 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,» a statement from the Dalai
Lama's office said.

China said an invitation had been extended to the Dalai Lama, but
gave no other details.

The news department of the State Council, China's Cabinet, did not
respond to a faxed request for comment. A man surnamed Gao in the
propaganda office of the United Front Work Department, which has
hosted talks in the past, said he did not have any details.

The Dalai Lama is lauded in much of the world as a figure of moral
authority, but Beijing demonizes the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
and says he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for
independence for Tibet.

China has governed Tibet with an iron fist since communist troops
marched into the Himalayan region in the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, who
fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has said he wants some
form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice their
culture, language and religion.

Pressure has been growing on both sides to improve relations in the
wake of the riots and protests that hit the Tibetan capital of Lhasa
and other areas of China with Tibetan populations in March.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who ended two days of
meetings in China on Monday, said she was encouraged by the new round
of talks and urged China to sincerely engage the Dalai Lama.

"We think he's a very positive figure in dealing with the very
difficult issue of Tibet," Rice said.

Some experts believe Beijing is agreeing to the discussions to ease
criticism ahead of the Olympic Games that begin Aug. 8 in the Chinese capital.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who left open the possibility of
boycotting the opening ceremony after China cracked down on the March
protests, said he had not yet decided whether to attend. Sarkozy has
said he would seek EU-wide agreement before making a decision.

France takes over the European Union's six-month rotating presidency
on Tuesday.

China has been accused of using heavy-handed tactics in quelling the
anti-government riots and protests in Tibet. Beijing says 22 people
died in the violence in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, while foreign
Tibet supporters say many times that number were killed in the
protests and a subsequent government crackdown.

Associated Press writer Ashwini Bhatia in Dharmsala, India,
contributed to this report.
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