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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Dalai Lama envoy visits Tibet
The Dalai Lama
Beijing refuses to talk to the Dalai Lama himself

An envoy of the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, has arrived in Tibet.

It is thought to be the first time in 20 years that such a visit has taken place.


The visit is part of a sudden upswing in contact - much of it secret - between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, who remains in exile in India

Lodi Gyari, a senior figure in the Tibetan exile movement, has already held talks in the Chinese capital Beijing and is expected to spend up to a week travelling in Tibet.

His visit has sparked hopes of a rapprochement between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government.

Mr Gyari is close to the Dalai Lama and has been instrumental in attracting international attention to the Tibetan cause.

'Deeply suspicious'

The Chinese Government is trying to keep his visit as low-profile as possible.

Chinese officials say he is here only for a personal visit and sight-seeing but, in reality, the visit carries far greater significance.

It is thought to be two decades since formal representatives of the Dalai Lama came to Tibet, and Mr Gyari's visit is part of a sudden upswing in contact - much of it secret - between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, who remains in exile in India.

At stake is the political future of Tibet.

The Chinese Government insists the region is irrevocably part of China. Many in the exile movement are campaigning for Tibet's independence, but the Dalai Lama has chosen what he calls 'the middle way'.

For a decade, he has called for autonomy for Tibet inside China's borders.

China's leaders remain deeply suspicious of the Dalai Lama and of his proposals.

But a new and unstated policy appears to be taking hold in Beijing: one of increased contacts and, perhaps, after Lodi Gyari's visit, even renewed negotiations.

See also:

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