New Delhi, April 25 - The Dalai Lama welcomes Beijing's offer to meet one of his representatives for talks, a spokesman for the Tibetan spiritual leader told Agence Agence France-Presse on Friday.
After China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported that talks would take place in the coming days, spokesman Tenzin Takla said it was “a step in the right direction.”
"Only face-to-face meetings can lead to a resolution of the Tibetan issue,” the spokesman said.
"His holiness, since March 10 when the [anti-Chinese] protests started, had been making all efforts to reach out to China and the Chinese government and he hopes the Tibetan issue can be resolved only through dialogue," Takla said by telephone from Dharamshala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
China has come under heavy foreign pressure to hold talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader since rioting erupted in the regional capital Lhasa last month.
Beijing, which will host the Olympics in August, had so far resisted the pressure and accused the Dalai Lama of instigating the violence, which the Nobel Prize winner denies.
"It is hoped that through contact and consultation, the Dalai side will take credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks," an unnamed Chinese official told Xinhua.
Critics accuse Beijing of severe political and religious oppression in Tibet.
The Tibetan government-in-exile, which is headquartered in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala, also welcomed the development.
"We as of now cannot confirm the receipt of this invitation from the Chinese side but if confirmed then this is something that we had wanted," spokesman Thubten Samphel said by telephone.
"If [the Xinhua report is] accurate then this is something we welcome as there is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the Tibetan issue," he told AFP.
The 72-year-old Dalai Lama has been living in Dharamshala since fleeing Tibet following an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.