WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday that renewed talks between China's government and representatives of the Dalai Lama should take up Tibetan complaints about freedom of religion and cultural values.
"We believe that dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama is the best way to address some of the fundamental issues in Tibet," said spokesman Scott Stanzel.
"People in Tibet feel that they are unable to freely practice their religion, freely practice some of their cultural traditions and values, so we believe that talks to discuss those issues are a good step," he said.
Stanzel underscored that "the Dalai Lama himself has said that he is not calling for any kind of change in the political status of Tibet." China has charged in the past that the religious leader seeks independence for his homeland.
Chinese officials and two envoys of the Dalai Lama met in southern China on Sunday for their first talks in over a year following global pressure on Beijing to reopen negotiations amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet.
The highly secretive talks in an undisclosed location in Shenzhen city ended with an agreement to meet again, although no date was set and no other major breakthrough was reported, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
Tibet's government-in-exile, which said ahead of the talks that its top concern was to end the current wave of repression in the Himalayan region, on Monday described the talks as important despite there being no breakthrough.