Second round of China-Tibet talks planned
Chinese officials and envoys of the Dalai Lama have agreed to a second round of talks, China's state-run news agency said in an apparent sign of progress in easing tensions raised by violent anti-government riots in Tibet, the AP reported.
Xinhua also said, however, that the Chinese officials told the Dalai Lama's envoys at their first meeting Sunday that the protests had spawned new obstacles to communication.
International critics have accused China of heavy-handed tactics in quelling the anti-government riots and protests in Tibet and Tibetan areas of western China. Some experts believe Beijing agreed to meet with the envoys to defuse that criticism ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.
The Xinhua report late Sunday said that Chinese officials had answered questions raised by the Dalai Lama's envoys at the meeting in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
"The two sides agreed another round of contact would be held at an appropriate time," Xinhua said, citing the unidentified sources.
But Xinhua added that the Chinese officials told the Dalai Lama's envoys that the violent protests "had given rise to new obstacles for resuming contacts and consultations with the Dalai side."
President Hu Jintao said in Beijing as the two parties met that he hoped for a "positive outcome" and that the "door of dialogue remains open," Xinhua reported earlier Sunday.
Xinhua said the meeting took place "at the repeated requests made by the Dalai side."
The meeting's exact location in Shenzhen, close to Hong Kong, was not announced. A large group of foreign reporters waited outside a palm tree-lined statehouse compound in suburban Shenzhen that was believed to be the meeting venue. But no sign of the parties was seen.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he was not behind the recent unrest, and that his envoys planned to ask China to address the accusations, said Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharmsala, India.The Dalai Lama's side also wanted to push for an easing of tensions in Tibetan areas of China, Rinpoche told The Associated Press, adding that the talks would last a day or two.
But even as the talks took place, China kept up its verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama.
Xinhua quoted Chinese experts on Tibet as saying the Tibetan Youth Congress, an exile group, was dedicated to separating Tibet from China and was the "armed spearhead of the 14th Dalai Lama group."
It quoted a researcher from the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center as saying the Tibetan Youth Congress was behind the March 14 riots.
"We hope the 14th Dalai Lama could truly give up 'Tibet independence,' stop secessionist activities, stop instigating violence, stop disrupting the Beijing Olympics, effectively prevent TYC's violence and denounce its terrorist acts," Xinhua quoted Liu Hongji as saying.
The Dalai Lama was represented by Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen. The Chinese officials were Zhu Weiqun and Sitar, who goes by one name. The two are vice ministers of the United Front Work Department, which deals with influential people in groups outside China's Communist Party.
China says 22 people died in violence in Tibet's capital of Lhasa, while overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number died in protests and a subsequent crackdown.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet during a failed uprising in 1959, says he is seeking meaningful autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from Chinese rule.