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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Tibet envoy hints at China thaw
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama's envoy has ended a rare visit to China

An envoy of the Dalai Lama says direct contact between the exiled Tibetan leader and the Chinese Government has been re-established.

The envoy, Lodi Gyari, has just completed a three-week visit to China and in an optimistic statement summing up the trip, he said he had made every effort to open a new chapter in the relationship.


His Holiness (the Dalai Lama)... was very pleased that a renewed contact had been established

Statement from Lodi Gyari

Formal contact between Beijing and the Dalai Lama was severed in 1993.

The statement is the latest evidence that a thaw is underway.

Lodi Gyari has just returned from a visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Tibet, the first of its kind in 20 years.

Easing

He said he had had frank and cordial talks. He said direct contact was now re-established between the Chinese leadership and the Dalai Lama, and that Chinese officials had shown much greater flexibility than before.

He said the Chinese side had shown keen interest in the Dalai Lama's proposals for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama is calling for autonomy for Tibet inside China's borders.

But Beijing usually accuses him of seeking outright independence for Tibet.

Importantly, Lodi Gyari's statement made no mention of repression in Tibet, or of human rights abuses there by Chinese security forces.

Its optimistic tone suggests that fresh dialogue on the future of Tibet and its people is in the works.

 WATCH/LISTEN