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Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 11:34 UK

China confirms Tibet envoy talks

Dalai Lama, file pic from June 2008
Western leaders want China to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama

China has confirmed a top official held talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, in its first statement on the two-day negotiations this week in Beijing.

Du Qinglin, of the Communist Party's United Work Front Department, told the envoys that the door to dialogue was "always open", Xinhua news agency said.

But he said the Dalai Lama should not support "violent criminal activities".

Beijing accuses the exiled leader of orchestrating anti-China protests that erupted in Tibet in March.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner roundly rejects the allegations.

Buddhist monks led anti-Beijing rallies in Lhasa which grew into widespread unrest among Tibetans, both in Tibet and surrounding provinces.

China says rioters killed at least 19 people, but Tibetan exiles say security forces killed dozens of protesters. It was the worst unrest in Tibet for 20 years.

Talks pressure

The talks in Beijing this week were the second between the two sides since the violence.

TIBET DIVIDE
China says Tibet was always part of its territory
Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th century
In 1950, China launched a military assault
Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India

Two senior envoys from the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, travelled to the Chinese capital for the closed-door meeting.

The envoys were now expected to report back to the Dalai Lama on the outcome of the discussions, the government-in-exile said.

Chinese officials gave no details of the talks while they were taking place - including the venue, timing or agenda.

But according to the Xinhua report, Mr Du called on the Dalai Lama not to support activities that interfered with the Olympics or "plots to fan violent criminal activities".

He also told him to curb "terrorist activities" by a Tibetan group, the agency said.

Previous rounds of talks between the two sides have come to nothing.

But in recent months China has come under considerable international pressure to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

These talks come only weeks before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has linked his presence at the opening ceremony in August to progress on the issue of Tibet.

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