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Dalai Lama seeks progress in China talks

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Anita Chang
Associated Press / July 1, 2008

BEIJING - The Dalai Lama called yesterday for "tangible progress" in upcoming talks with China, as international pressure mounted for the sides to ease tensions after antigovernment riots that rocked Tibet.

Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, envoys who regularly represent the Tibetan spiritual leader in meetings with China's Communist leadership, arrived in Beijing yesterday.

They will begin two days of talks with their Chinese counterparts today, 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. Some specialists believe Beijing is agreeing to a fresh round of discussions to ease criticism ahead of the Olympic Games that begin Aug. 8 in the Chinese capital.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said yesterday he could attend the Aug. 8 opening of the Beijing Olympics if more progress is made in the talks.

Sarkozy said he would make his decision known early next week.

"I think it is progressing well," he said. "If there was continued progress and if the Dalai Lama and the Chinese president acknowledged the progress, then the obstacle to my participation would be lifted."

State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that previous rounds of talks have not dealt with all the issues between the sides, "but this is the way forward. We hope this discussion will advance the cause of the resolution of many of the outstanding issues in Tibet."

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