Dalai Lama envoys arrive in China for talks

Dalai Lama envoys arrive in China for talks

Senior envoys of the Dalai Lama arrived in China on Monday to meet the government over the issue of Tibet, the Tibetan government-in-exile said, amid pressure on China to open up dialogue as the Olympics approach.

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The talks, scheduled from July 1-2 in Beijing, aim to mend fences with the Dalai Lama who fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. 

"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 government-in-exile, which is based in the town of Dharamsala in northern India, said.

The arrival of the Dalai Lama's envoys coincides with a visit to China by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who pressed Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tibet and human rights matters, saying Americans felt deeply about these issues.

The meeting comes about a month before the Olympic Games in Beijing, with the Chinese government concerned about its international image.

"It is a clear attempt by China to ensure that the violence earlier this year does not happen again before the Olympics," Alka Acharya, who teaches East Asian studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.

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This is the second meeting between the two sides since a crackdown on protests against Chinese rule in Tibet earlier this year, which led to an international diplomatic chorus for China to hold a dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Tibet then became a flash point for anti-China protests that disrupted the Olympic torch relay around the world and led to calls for state leaders to boycott the Beijing Games, which open on Aug 8.

Chinese officials met the Dalai Lama's representatives for talks on May 4, but further discussions originally set to start in June were postponed after an earthquake in China in May killed about 70,000 people.

China's Xinhua news agency said over the weekend that Chinese authorities had announced that "relevant central government departments will meet personal representatives of the Dalai Lama at his request in early July".

The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for the strategic Himalayan region, but Beijing brands him a "splittist" or separatist.

China blames the "Dalai Lama clique" for the violence in Tibet in March and protests that disrupted the Olympic torch relay in several countries.The Dalai Lama has said he supports the Olympics and has called for calm during the Beijing Games.

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Photo: AP

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