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Tibetan envoys agree to further talks

After a day of talks behind closed doors, Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's envoys have agreed to meet for further talks at an undisclosed date, China's official news agency has reported. (Story: E.Irvine)

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Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's envoys agreed to hold further talks following one day of meetings here Sunday, although no date was announced, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

During the talks, the Chinese officials repeated China's publicly stated position that the Tibetan spiritual leader must stop pushing for independence for his homeland and trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics, Xinhua said.

These were conditions for talks to continue, Xinhua cited unidentified sources as saying.

Nevertheless, agreement was reportedly reached that further talks would be held.

"Chinese central government officials and the private representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama agreed to hold another round of contact and consultation at an appropriate time," Xinhua said.

The closed-door talks, the first in over a year between the two sides, came after international leaders pressured China to reopen dialogue in the wake of deadly unrest in Tibet that began in March.

China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for his homeland and of fomenting the unrest in an effort to shine a world spotlight on Tibet ahead of the Olympics in August.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has rejected these accusations.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans have been killed and about 1,000 hurt in the crackdown on the unrest.

China says it has acted with restraint and that Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" have killed 21 people, mostly on March 14 in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, the worst reported day of violence.

Sunday's meeting was between Zhu Weiqun and Sitar, who uses only one name, from the Chinese side, and the Dalai Lama's two top envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen.

"During the meeting, Zhu and Sitar pointed out that the riot in Lhasa on March 14 had given rise to new obstacles for resuming contacts and consultations with the Dalai side," Xinhua said.

"However, the central government still arranged this meeting with great patience and sincerity," Xinhua cited the pair as saying in the meeting.

Zhu and Sitar also said the action taken by Chinese authorities in quelling the unrest was "completely correct".

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