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China: Dalai Lama must disavow violence
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    BEIJING — China wants the Dalai Lama to prove he does not support Tibetan independence and disruption of the Beijing Olympics, and told the spiritual leader’s two visiting envoys that ‘‘positive actions’’ could lead to more talks this year, a state news agency reported Thursday.
    The demands made by a top Chinese official in two days of meetings indicate there has been no apparent change in Beijing’s position toward the Dalai Lama, who is frequently demonized by the Communist leadership.
    Beijing has accused the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and his supporters of fomenting anti-government protests that rocked Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in March.
    The accusations have been rebuffed by the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile, which insisted Thursday that the Dalai Lama has been ‘‘tireless’’ in expressing his commitment to nonviolence.
    ‘‘He has also gone out of his way to publicly announce his support for the Beijing Olympics. He has even said that he would like to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics to show his support,’’ said Thupten Samphal, a spokesman for the exile government based in Dharmsala, India.
    The talks are important to China’s hopes of hosting a flawless Olympic Games. Some experts believe Beijing agreed to the talks to ease criticism that it was too heavy-handed in its response to the March violence.
    China says 22 people died in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, while foreign Tibet supporters say many times that number were killed in the demonstrations and a subsequent government crackdown.
    Some world leaders have said they might boycott the opening ceremony of next month’s Olympics to protest China’s handling of the unrest. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this week he would attend if the latest talks made progress, and would make a decision during the Group of Eight summit next week in Japan.
    Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday that Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work Department, met with two Tibetan envoys and said the Dalai Lama should ‘‘openly and explicitly’’ promise and prove through his actions that he does not support disruptions of the Beijing Olympics, nor plots to incite violence.
    The Dalai Lama also must not support any effort to seek independence for Tibet, Du was quoted as saying by Xinhua, which cited a report from the United Front Work Department. The department is designed to negotiate with influential people in groups outside of China’s Communist Party.
    Phones in the department’s propaganda office rang unanswered all day Thursday.
    Du told envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen that the door of dialogue is always open, Xinhua reported. Two vice ministers of the United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun and Sita, also said there could be further meetings before the end of this year if the Dalai Lama’s side takes ‘‘positive actions.’’ No other details were given.
    The Xinhua report was the first time China acknowledged meeting the Tibetan envoys for the latest round of talks. There have been at least a half-dozen formal meetings since 2002.
    The Tibetan exile government has said the talks ended Wednesday in Beijing, but said it would not comment on the discussions until after the envoys briefed the Dalai Lama.
    ‘‘That Xinhua has formally acknowledged the meeting between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the Chinese officials is a positive step,’’ Samphal said.
    China has governed Tibet since communist troops marched into the Himalayan region in the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has said he wants some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice their culture, language and religion.
    ‘‘It’s good when they talk, you never know what happens when the two sides talk, perhaps one or both sides can move toward a common compromise,’’ said Melvyn Goldstein, director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western Reserve University in the U.S. ‘‘But the gap, in my mind, is still very very great.’’
    Associated Press writer Ashwini Bhatia in Dharmsala, India, contributed to this report.

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