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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Dalai Lama team visits Beijing
The Dalai Lama
Beijing refuses to talk to the Dalai Lama himself
A high-level delegation from the Dalai Lama's Tibetan government-in-exile has arrived in the Chinese capital, Beijing, at the invitation of the Chinese Government.


We do see the trip as a positive development

US State Department
The delegation, which includes the Tibetan spiritual leader's representatives in the United States and Europe - Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen - is also expected to travel to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The purpose of the visit is not known but in a statement the Dalai Lama said he was "very pleased" that the team was able to make it.

Correspondents say that although some contact is maintained between the Dalai Lama and the authorities in Beijing, this is an unusually high-level visit.

It is the first time senior represenattives of the exiled Tibetan leader have publicly travelled to China since 1984.

Hints of progress

The US Government welcomed the trip as an indication of progress in relations between the two sides.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "We do see the trip of Lodi Gyari to Beijing and then to Lhasa as a positive development."

He added that he hoped it would lead to dialogue between Beijing and the government-in-exile.

A source from the Dalai Lama's administration echoed Mr Boucher's hopes in comments to the Reuters news agency.

"Lodi Gyanri is in charge of promoting dialogue so the big question is what does the invitation imply?" he said.

Beijing refuses to hold talks with the Dalai Lama himself, insisting that Tibet is part of China and that Tibet's spiritual leader is a separatist.

His elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, has travelled to Beijing several times in the past, but the current visit is viewed as more significant because of the official status of the envoys.

China seized control of Tibet in 1950 - a move it describes as "peaceful liberation" and the Tibetan government-in-exile says was invasion.

After an uprising against the Chinese administration failed in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, a north Indian hill station, where he set up his government in exile.

See also:

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