Envoy says 'mixed messages' from Beijing obscure picture

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The special envoy of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader says no date has yet been set for a requested third visit this year by the Dalai Lama's representatives, although he said he was still hopeful Beijing would respond soon, RFA's Tibetan service reports.

"No time or date is confirmed for our third trip to China," Kalsang Gyaltsen, special envoy of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, told RFA.

The Dalai Lama's envoys have visited China twice in the last year, sparking hopes of a political solution that would enable the exiled leader to return to his homeland. Another envoy, Lodi Gyari, told RFA in September that a third trip had already been requested.

Kalsang Gyaltsen said he was maintaining an optimistic outlook in spite of the lack of response from Chinese officials so far. "We are hoping to maintain and also further enhance the contacts. It would be beneficial for both Tibetans and Chinese," he said.

"When we think of the Chinese expressions during the last two trips, I had the impression that both are recognizing the importance of continuing the contacts. Therefore we hope to receive a positive response from the Chinese government. It is expected soon," he said.

RFA's sources on Tibet also tell a conflicting story. On the one hand, Chinese officials were believed to have been planning to invite the Dalai Lama to visit China. Others, however, say that the envoys have written two letters to Beijing since September proposing further meetings but have received no reply.

Since the earlier visits, however, Beijing has lashed out at the Dalai Lama for visiting several countries, including the United States, where he met President George W. Bush and other senior officials in his administration in September.

Beijing lodged an official protest at the visit and called on the United States to keep its promise to acknowledge Tibet as a part of China and not to support Tibetan independence.

Both Washington and the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959, say they do not favor Tibetan independence but greater autonomy for the Tibetan people.

The Dalai Lama, during his recent visits overseas, has expressed strong concerns about the "cultural genocide" he sees occurring in his homeland.

Beijing has criticized what it calls his attempts to use other countries as a base to carry out splittist activities.

The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent opposition to the Chinese presence in Tibet.#####


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