The Dalai Lama says Tibet needs to be part of China to prosper economically, but that it also needs autonomy to preserve its culture.

In an interview aired Monday on National Public Radio in the United States, the exiled spiritual leader said that Tibet is "materially backward" and that for Tibetans to realize the benefits of modernization it is necessary to remain part of China.

But he argued that the current situation, whether intentional or not, is resulting in "cultural genocide." He said the only way to stop it would be for China to grant Tibet control over education and other local matters.

On Sunday, the Nobel peace prize laureate told a news conference in the U.S. state of Washington that his representatives are conducting talks with Chinese officials through private channels. He said he had no direct involvement in the conversations.

The Dalai Lama did not say what issues are being discussed with China, and he said it is not clear what might result from the talks.

He also denied Chinese claims that he is behind the recent turmoil in Tibet, saying he will resign as leader of Tibet's exiled government if violence in his homeland spirals out of control.

The Dalai Lama is attending a five-day "Seeds of Compassion" conference in Seattle.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say about 140 people have died since Chinese security forces took action against protesters last month. China says about 20 people have died, and blames the casualties on Tibetan rioters.