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China says 'sincere' in Tibet talks
AFP[Thursday, July 17, 2008 17:30]
BEIJING - China Thursday rejected accusations by a representative of the Dalai Lama that it was not serious about talks over the status of Tibet.

"The central government is sincere about holding contact with the Dalai side," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.

"Both sides have expressed their will to continue the contact."

Kelsang Gyaltsen, an envoy of the Dalai Lama - Tibet's exiled spiritual leader - said on Tuesday that Tibetans saw little point in the dialogue with Beijing, the last round of which ended at the beginning of the month.

"We do not see any useful purpose in continuing the dialogue since there is obviously a lack of political will from the Chinese leadership to seriously address the issue of Tibet," he said at the European Parliament in Brussels.

"However (our) Chinese counterparts felt the dialogue we had begun in 2002 has been useful for both sides to understand each other better."

The two sides are due to meet again in October after Beijing hosts the Olympic Games in August.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to "liberate" the remote Himalayan region.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed uprising and has since lived in exile in India.

China accuses him of being a separatist, but the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner insists he does not want independence for Tibet.

However he has repeatedly said he wants greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule as well as an end to religious and cultural repression.

The issue was thrown into the global spotlight in March, when China cracked down on protests against Chinese rule that began in the region's capital, Lhasa, and spread to other parts of the country with Tibetan populations.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in China's crackdown.

Beijing insists that only one Tibetan was killed, and has in turn accused the "rioters" of killing 21 people.

The formal talks between the two sides broke off last year, but started again this month after an informal round of discussions was held on May 4 in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.
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