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Tibetans Express Appreciation of Chinese Willingness for Dialog

Tibet's government-in-exile says it is looking forward to a second round of talks with Chinese officials. Envoys of the Dalai Lama, who met with the Chinese in Shenzhen, Sunday, say negotiators exchanged concrete proposals and expressed views in a frank and candid manner. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

Despite what they call "strong and divergent" views, Tibetan negotiators say their Chinese counterparts appear willing to engage in addressing concerns of the Tibetans living under Chinese rule.

One of the envoys, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, told reporters Thursday in Dharamsala - the headquarters of Tibet's exiled government - that, although the two sides disagreed strongly on the cause of the recent violence in Tibet, the Chinese seemed sincere about engaging in a dialog.

Spokesman Thubten Samphel tells VOA News the discussion had a different mood from the intermittent talks held since 2002.

"Despite major differences on important issues, both sides demonstrated, this time, a willingness to seek a common approach in addressing the issues at hand," he said. "As a result, an understanding was reached to continue the formal round of discussions. A date for the second round will be finalized soon, after a mutual consultation."

The closed-door talks were the first since anti-China riots in Lhasa, in March, and unrest that spread to other parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region and China.

The Chinese have accused the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of fermenting the unrest.

Spokesman Samphel says, during Sunday's talks in Shenzhen, the Tibetan envoys called for the end of China's re-education campaign targeted at Tibetan monks and others.

"We have stressed to the Chinese side the importance of ending the current repression throughout Tibet," he said. "We have also called for the release of prisoners, to allow those in jail to be given proper medical treatment and to give unfettered access to visitors to Tibet, including the media."

Chinese President Hu Jintao, speaking in Japan, Wednesday, said that, although talks with the Tibetans would continue, the Dalai Lama must stop orchestrating acts of violence and trying to undermine the upcoming Summer Olympic games in Beijing.

The People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950, annexing it into China the following year. After a revolt failed in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India.

The United States and other Western governments had urged Beijing to restart a dialog with the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan spiritual leader says he desires autonomy, not independence, for his people.