Page last updated at 06:16 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 07:16 UK

Dalai Lama envoys to go to China

The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India - 2/5/2008
The Dalai Lama has spoken out against the violence in March

Envoys of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are due to hold talks with officials in China, the Dalai Lama's office says.

Two Tibetan envoys are expected to arrive on Saturday for talks on ending the crisis in Tibetan areas of China.

This would be the first contact between the two sides since anti-China protests in Tibet in March turned violent.

Chinese state media has renewed its criticism of the Dalai Lama, who it blames for masterminding the protests.

This is a charge the Dalai Lama has always denied.

He and the Tibetan government-in-exile have been based in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959.

The Tibetan envoys "will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about the Chinese authorities' handling of the situation and also provide suggestions to bring peace to the region," a statement from the Dalai Lama's office in Dharamsala, India, said.

Last week, an unnamed Chinese official told state media that Beijing would hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama "in coming days".

The BBC's correspondent in Beijing says that there have already been six rounds of dialogue between the two sides in recent years, but none of them has achieved a breakthrough.

Chinese state media on Saturday renewed attacks against Tibet's spiritual leader.

"Patriotic people of Tibet strongly condemn and vehemently denounce the litany of crimes committed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his followers," said the official Tibet Daily.

Autonomy demands

Anti-China protests led by Buddhist monks began in Lhasa on 10 March and gradually escalated into rioting.

China says at least 19 people were killed by the rioters - but Tibetan exiles say that nearly 100 were killed by the Chinese security forces as they moved to quell the unrest.

The unrest was the worst in the region in 20 years.

The Chinese government blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for inciting the trouble, saying their goal was to undermine the forthcoming Beijing Olympics and promote Tibetan independence.

"The Dalai clique's hopes of achieving Tibetan independence are increasingly dim, and at this time when their hopes have been destroyed, the Dalai clique launched a bloody violent event - their last bout of madness," the Tibet Daily said on Saturday.

After the riots, pro-Tibetan protesters threw China's global Olympic torch relay into disarray as it passed through several cities, including London, Paris and San Francisco.

The Dalai Lama has denied Beijing's charges and repeated his position that he wants increased autonomy for Tibet within China, not independence.

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