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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."

Dalai Lama envoys, China to meet in Beijing

July 2, 2008

CNN/The Associated Press
July 1, 2008

Story Highlights:
* Chinese officials wouldn't say what the agenda was, or even when it
would start
* Talks follow informal talks held in May in the southern Chinese
city of Shenzhen
* Some believe Beijing agreed to the meetings to ease criticism ahead
of the Olympics
* Talks follow protests that hit Tibet, areas of China with Tibetan
populations in March

BEIJING, China (AP) -- Secrecy surrounded the start of talks between
envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government on Tuesday aimed
at easing tensions following anti-government riots in Tibet in March.

Beijing says the Dalai Lama seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by
pushing for independence for Tibet.

Chinese officials would not say where the meeting would be held, what
the agenda was, or even when it would start.

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

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tibetan
government-in-exile based in Dharmsala, India, said that envoys Lodi
Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen would represent the Dalai Lama.

"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.

The talks were confirmed Monday by Gao Fei, director of the
Propaganda Office of the United Front Work Department, which is
hosting the meeting. Gao was not available to comment Tuesday.

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

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.

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

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who left open the possibility of
boycotting the opening ceremony soon after the Chinese crackdown in
Tibet, said this week he would attend if the Tibet talks made progress.

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.
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