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Tibet Talks Conclude with Little Progress

July 6, 2008

By Jill Drew
The Washington Post Foreign Service (USA)
July 4, 2008; A12

BEIJING, July 3 -- Envoys for the Dalai Lama ended more than two days
of talks with Chinese government officials Thursday with no immediate
reports of substantive progress on easing tensions in Tibet,
something the United States and other foreign governments had pushed for.

A report on the talks in state-controlled media contained no
concessions on the part of the Chinese in allowing more autonomy for
Tibetans in the wake of widespread protests this spring against
Chinese rule. Rather, the report repeated the conditions that the
Tibetan spiritual leader would be required to meet before the Chinese
would agree to new talks before the end of the year. Most
significantly, he must prove that he does not support activities that
would disturb next month's Olympic Games in Beijing, and agree to
"concretely curb" violent activities of groups advocating Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama's envoys left Beijing on Thursday afternoon, and
spokesman Tenzin Taklha said they would return to Dharmsala, India,
to brief the Dalai Lama before making any public statements. The
Dalai Lama repeatedly has said he supports Beijing as host of the
Olympics and would attend the Games if invited. He has also denied he
is seeking independence; he has said, rather, that he is urging more
cultural autonomy.

Some Tibet experts had hoped for signs that the talks were more than
a Chinese attempt to take international focus off Tibet until after
the Olympics. The experts found only slight shifts in which to take heart.

"Now they are implicitly accusing him of 'supporting' violence
instead of directly insisting that he masterminds it," said Robbie
Barnett, a Tibet scholar and professor at Columbia University in New
York. "I can't see this going down very well in Tibet or anywhere else."
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