Tibetan envoys head for 'informal' talks in China

By: Nederland Basis  04/05/2008
Keywords: Education, Marketing, Printing

DHARAMSHALA, India : Two Tibetan envoys will arrive in China on Saturday to start "informal" talks with the country's leadership after bloody riots in Lhasa, a spokesman for the Tibetan officials in exile said. The meetings will be the first reported face-to-face contact between the two sides since unrest erupted in Tibet on March 10 followed by a Chinese crackdown. "During this brief visit, the envoys will take up the urgent issue of the current crisis in the Tibetan areas," spokesman Thubten Samphel told AFP on Friday. "They will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about the Chinese authorities' handling of the situation and also provide suggestions to bring peace to the region." He said the envoys, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, had arrived in Hong Kong en route to mainland China for the talks, which may start as early as Saturday. "The envoys will raise the issue of moving forward on the process for a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibetan issue," he added. Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Samdhong Rinpoche, however, warned against high expectations. "We don't have much high expectations. Nevertheless, we are happy consultations are taking place," he told AFP. "It is not the seventh round of talks," Rinpoche said referring to six rounds of a dialogue on Tibetan autonomy that started in late 2002 and broke off in 2007. "It is only an informal consultation," said Rinpoche, who last week revealed his government had been in touch with the Chinese authorities on ways to resolve "the crisis" in Tibet. The exiled Tibetan group, based in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala, says 203 people were killed and some 1,000 hurt in the unrest and crackdown. At least 5,715 people have been arrested since the protests began, according to figures which the government says have been extensively cross-checked. China said 20 people had been killed by Tibetan "rioters" until Monday, when state media for the first time said police shot dead a Tibetan pro-independence "insurgent." The Tibetan unrest has deeply angered and embarrassed China's communist rulers ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, offering a rallying cry for pro-Tibetan protesters who have followed the Games torch relay around the world. On Tuesday, China warned that for the new talks to succeed, the Dalai Lama must end the violence in Tibet, although the spiritual leader has repeatedly denied stoking trouble. "We hope the Dalai can cherish this opportunity, recognise the situation and change his position to take concrete measures to stop his criminal acts of violence, stop his sabotage of the Beijing Olympics and his separatist activities, so as to create conditions for the next step of talks," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters. Tibetan leaders say the unrest is a result of the anger and frustration experienced by the people of Tibet after nearly six decades of repressive Chinese rule. Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and officially annexed the region a year later. Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland following the 1959 uprising, has repeatedly accused China of widespread rights violations.

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