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Tibet talks 'going very well' - 5/6/2008
The closed-door meeting on Sunday in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, was the first since an anti-Beijing riot in Lhasa and unrest rocked Tibet and nearby areas in March."They [the envoys] have completed their discussion," Thubten Samphel, secretary of the Department of Information of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, said. "Professor Samdhong Rimpoche described the dialogue as going very well," he added, referring to the prime minister of the self-proclaimed government-in-exile.The Tibetan riots and protests, which China blames on the Dalai Lama, were the most serious challenge to Chinese rule in the mountainous region for nearly two decades.They prompted anti-China protests that disrupted the international leg of the Olympic torch relay and led to calls to boycott August's Beijing Games, which in turn triggered counter-protests by Chinese fiercely proud of holding the Games."Chinese central government officials and the private representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama agreed to hold another round of contact at an appropriate time," China's official Xinhua news agency said.
State media quoted the Chinese officials attending the talks as saying the unrest added new "obstacles", a sign that contact between the two sides, already fraught with mistrust, was likely to get even more difficult. China proposed the talks last month after Western governments urged it to open new dialogue with the Dalai Lama, who says he wants a high level of autonomy, not independence, for the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan homeland he fled in 1959. Xinhua quoted unnamed sources as saying Sunday's meeting was arranged at the government-in-exile's repeated request for contacts and consultations with the central government. A. Tom Grunfeld, a China and Tibet expert at State University of New York, said years of mistrust between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's people made it difficult to expect much from the talks. "The best-case scenario is that both sides commit themselves to small, doable, reasonable actions from now until the end of August," he said by email. "Then, if they have both fulfilled their commitments, serious talks can commence." The torch was being paraded on Monday through the southern island of Hainan, where it was greeted by joyous crowds for a second day, as a team of climbers bearing a second torch awaited clear weather to ascend the world's highest mountain, Everest.

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