(AFP) – Jun 29, 2008
BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese authorities will resume talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama in early July following a request from the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, state press said Sunday.
"Our door is always open for the dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Xinhua news agency quoted a government spokesman as saying.
"(We) hope that the Dalai Lama would treasure this opportunity and give positive response to the requirements of the central authorities."
No precise date was given for the resumption of talks.
China has for years demanded that the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner give up his aspirations for an independent Tibet if he ever hopes to return to his Himalayan homeland.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated his opposition to Tibetan independence, but continues to seek "real and meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, which Beijing says is already an "autonomous region" within China.
China and the Dalai Lama's representatives held a sixth round of drawn-out talks in early May after anti-China unrest shook the Tibetan region two months earlier.
China has accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting the unrest in an effort to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games.
A seventh round of talks were scheduled for June 11 but were postponed following the May 12 earthquake that devastated parts of southwest China.
Deadly riots broke out on March 14 in the capital Lhasa after earlier peaceful protests to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
Beijing says it acted with restraint to quell the Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents," charging them with killing 21 people in the unrest, which spread to other parts of western China with Tibetan populations.
The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in China's crackdown. China insists that only one rioter was killed.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile after the 1959 uprising and set up his government in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.
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