February 25, 2006

Dalai Lama envoys report block in talks with China

BEIJING (Reuters) - Envoys of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's
spiritual leader who has been branded a separatist by Beijing,
said fundamental differences remained after talks in China on
allowing more autonomy for the Buddhist region.

It was the fifth round of negotiations since contacts
between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives resumed in
2002, but there have so far been no concrete results of a
process the Chinese government does not even openly acknowledge

"There is a better and deeper understanding of each other's
position and the fundamental differences that continue to exist
in the positions held by the two parties," envoy Lodi Gyari
said in a statement, adding that the trip included a visit to
the southern autonomous region of Guangxi.

"This round of discussion also made it clear that there is
a major difference even in the approach in addressing the
issue. However, we remain committed to the dialogue process and
are hopeful that progress will be possible by continuing the

The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising
against Chinese rule, nine years after Communist troops invaded
the remote, mountainous region.

Although Beijing considers him a traitor, many Tibetans
still remain loyal to the figure they regard as a god-king.

Analysts say China is committed to the dialogue in part
because it fears that if the 70-year-old Dalai Lama should die
in exile, it could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy
with Chinese rule and leave a destabilizing leadership vacuum.

That could also strengthen support among Tibetans for full
independence, especially among youth frustrated with the Dalai
Lama's "middle way" approach that advocates autonomy for Tibet
as a part of China.