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China Denies Foreign Pressure Led to Talks With Dalai Lama's Envoy


China's Foreign Ministry denies foreign pressure led to Beijing's decision to revive talks with a representative of the Dalai Lama. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu says the Chinese government's contact and consultation with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, were completely internal affairs of China.

The United States, the European Union and other western countries have been urging Beijing to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, after recent Tibetan unrest.

The unrest followed several days of peaceful monk-led protests against government persecution in Tibetan areas of China.

Jiang said the foreign pressure had nothing to do with Beijing's announcement last week that it would soon hold talks with the Dalai Lama's envoy.

She says on issues of national sovereignty and territorial integrity the Chinese government and people will never yield to any external pressure.

Chinese officials have met with representatives of the Dalai Lama several times in the past, but with little improvement in relations.

The crackdown that followed the unrest fueled protests and calls for a boycott against the Beijing Olympics and the global torch relay.

Chinese nationalists have led counter-protests, and in Seoul Sunday they attacked demonstrators upset with China's policy of repatriating North Korean refugees.

Chinese students threw stones and water bottles at the protesters. South Korea's government complained to China's ambassador, but Jiang Yu was reluctant to condemn the violence.

She says while they have condemned large-scale, violent demonstrations, the Chinese students and overseas Chinese merely had some friction with those who disrupted and sabotaged the torch relay. She says the two are totally different in nature.

Meanwhile, tough sentences were handed out for 30 Tibetans arrested for a riot in Lhasa that Beijing blames on the Dalai Lama.

China's official Xinhua news agency reported jail terms were handed down ranging from three years to life in prison for their alleged roles in the riot. Six monks received sentences from 15 years to life.

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