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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 10:52 GMT
Tibet envoys 'in China for talks'
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama insists he wants only autonomy for Tibet

Envoys of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama are in China for talks on allowing the region some form of autonomy, his office has said.

The meeting with Chinese officials is the fifth since contacts resumed in 2002. Discussions are conducted behind closed doors and details rarely emerge.

Correspondents say there have been no tangible results from talks so far.

The Dalai Lama - who is based in northern India - says he wants only autonomy, not independence, for Tibet.

China has refused to comment on the talks.

But analysts say Beijing wants dialogue, partly because it fears the death of the 70-year-old spiritual leader in exile could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama's office said the negotiating team was led by the same envoy who had been involved in earlier rounds, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari.

Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the government-in-exile, told Reuters news agency the previous round of talks, in Switzerland in 2005, which he described as "very intensive" and "frank", had given Tibetans hope.

"Our ultimate hope is to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of negotiated settlement with the Chinese leadership so that Tibet's people will have the freedom to preserve what is important to us, which is our cultural identity," he said.

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