China opens door to talks with Dalai Lama representative

The Chinese government is preparing to meet with a private representative of the Dalai Lama, China's Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

The Chinese government is preparing to meet with a private representative of the Dalai Lama, China's Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

The meeting will happen "in the coming days" and is the result of "requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side for resuming talks," an official told the news agency.

Conditions for the talks must include "credible moves" by supporters of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to abandon violence and protests, the official said.

But the prime minister of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile said he had not received any official Chinese confirmation of the Xinhua report and sounded a cautious note on any potential talks.

"The Dalai Lama is always open to have a dialogue but the present circumstances in Tibet do not appear to be an appropriate platform for a meaningful dialogue," Samdhong Rimpoche told the Associated Press at the government-in-exile's headquarters in the town of Dharmsala.

The announcement from Beijing also called for an end to "activities aimed at splitting China," and urged Dalai Lama supporters to "stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games."

Beijing has consistently blamed the Dalai Lama for orchestrating a violent protest in the middle of March in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

Chinese state-run media said that at least 22 people were killed and hundreds injured after several days of peaceful demonstrations in  Lhasa turned violent on March 14. Tibetan-rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed.

Dalai Lama urged restraint

For his part, the Dalai Lama again denied that he instigated the violence, and has urged his followers to show restraint and remain peaceful.

Since then, China's handling of the unrest has drawn criticism and calls from pro-Tibet groups to boycott the upcoming Olympic Games, which run Aug. 8-24 in Beijing.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged China to take heed of rising concerns over its human rights record.

"I would continue to urge China to respect human rights and peaceful protest, not just in Tibet but everywhere," Harper said.

Harper also said that his government hasn't discussed boycotting the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics over human rights concerns, but that he does not plan to attend.

"The policy of the central government towards Dalai has been consistent and the door of dialogue has remained open," he said.

The March uprising was the broadest and most sustained against Chinese rule in almost two decades. Chinese officials have repeatedly denounced what they call "the Dalai clique" for masterminding unrest and sabotage.

Anger at Chinese rule has boiled over on many occasions in Tibet since its formal annexation in the early 1950s.

In 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed in Lhasa and other cities in the largest ever uprising against Beijing, after which the Dalai Lama fled to India.