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China mum on talks with Dalai Lama's envoys

By Raghavendra in Beijing
July 01, 2008 15:36 IST
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China on Tuesday hoped that the "contact and dialogue" with envoys of the Dalai Lama could make "positive progress" as the start of the fence-mending talks between the two sides in Beijing remained shrouded in secrecy.

The Tibetan government in exile said at Dharamsala on Monday that its envoys had reached Beijing to hold the second round of talks for two days from Tuesday, but there was no official word yet from China either on the venue or schedule.

"As far as we know, officials from the Central government will have contact with the private representatives of the Dalai Lama. Now, I have no more details," foreign ministry pokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing.

Asked about the venue and schedule, he said, "As I said, they will make contact with the officials of the relevant authorities of the Central government and I don't have any more details."

"I hope the relevant dialogue and contact could make positive progress," he said.

China announced on Sunday that it would resume dialogue with "private representatives" of the Dalai Lama in early July, the second encounter after both sides met in Shenzen on May 4 after Tibet was rocked by the most sustained anti-government protests in two decades in March.

On French President Nicolas Sarkozy's position that his decision to attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony would depend on progress in talks on Tibet issue, Liu said, "Tibet is an internal affair of China and the contact between Central government and private representatives of the Dalai Lama is also an internal affair."

"We oppose any national leader meeting Dalai Lama in any form. We oppose connecting Tibet related issues with Beijing Olympics and oppose politicising it," Liu said.

The Beijing Olympics is a "major event" of 1.3 billion people and also of people of the world at large, he said, adding, "to hold a successful Olympic Games is the hope of Chinese people and the shared aspirations of the world's people."

Asked about the position of China on issues like climate change and Tibet at the upcoming G-8 Summit in Japan next week, he said, "We oppose discussing the Tibet issue in any form at such an international meeting."

After the riots erupted during monks-led protests in Lhasa on March 14, the Dalai Lama has been the target of a vitriolic attack from China, which accuses him of having "masterminded" the violence and of trying to sabotage the Olympics, a charge 72-year old monk has repeatedly denied.

China has accused Dalai Lama of being a separatist, but the Nobel Laureate insists that he only wants autonomy for Tibet and supports Olympics.

Beijing's move to engage the Dalai Lama side is also seen as an attempt to polish its image ahead of Olympics, as the Tibet issue has drawn unwanted global attention on it when the nation is readying to showcase itself as a modern power through the Games.

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Raghavendra in Beijing

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