BEIJING (AFP) — China's state press on Monday accused the Dalai Lama of "monstrous crimes", keeping up its fiery rhetoric against the exiled spiritual Tibetan leader despite agreeing to maintain dialogue with him.
Chinese officials and two envoys of the Dalai Lama met in southern China on Sunday for their first talks in over a year following global pressure on Beijing to reopen negotiations amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet.
The highly secretive talks in an undisclosed location in Shenzhen city ended with an agreement to meet again, although no date was set and no other major breakthrough was reported, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
Tibet's government-in-exile, which said ahead of the talks that its top concern was to end the current wave of repression in the Himalayan region, on Monday described the talks as important despite there being no breakthrough.
"The fact we are once again in contact is very vital for a solution to the Tibetan issue," Thubten Samphel, spokesman of the northern India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, told AFP by phone.
"It is also very good that China agreed to honour a meeting later."
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday voiced hope that progress would be made in the talks and that he wanted future channels of negotiation to remain open.
But China, which has blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest that erupted in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 14 and spread to Tibetan-populated regions around the country, showed no signs that the talks had changed its position.
"Following the March 14 incident in Lhasa, the Dalai has not only refused to admit his monstrous crimes, but he has continued to perpetuate fraud," an article in Monday's state Tibet Daily said.
The article, which did not refer to Sunday's talks, described the Dalai Lama's demands for "genuine autonomy" in Tibet and the "greater Tibetan region" as fraudulent.
The "Dalai Clique" is trying to "confuse public opinion and incite ethnic hatred," the article said. The Dalai Lama's attempt to realise a "greater Tibetan region is part of his attempt to split the motherland," it said.
The comments echo fiery rhetoric that China's official press have regularly aimed at the Dalai Lama.
The Tibet Daily recently called him "a wolf who has the face of a human but the heart of a beast."
Meanwhile, the English-language China Daily on Monday called the Tibetan Youth Congress, run by exiled Tibetans, a "terrorist organisation" bent on separating Tibet from China.
China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for his homeland and of fomenting the recent unrest in an effort to shine a world spotlight on Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has rejected these accusations, but has accused China of widespread human rights violations against his people and maintained his push for greater Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule.
The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans have been killed and about 1,000 hurt in the Chinese crackdown on the latest unrest. China says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" have killed 21 people.
Tibetan government-in-exile spokesman Samphel said quick solutions could not be expected in the talks, which began in 2002 but China suspended last year.
"The issue of Tibet is too complicated and one cannot expect one or two rounds of talks will lead to solutions. But what is important is that the two sides are talking, which will help in dispelling mistrust," he said.
The two envoys who held the talks with the Chinese officials were due to return to India on Tuesday or Wednesday and would then brief the Dalai Lama, Tibetan officials said.
US President George W. Bush was one of the world leaders who had pressured China to restart negotiations to end the Tibetan crisis and the White House immediately welcomed their resumption.
"We hope discussions can lead to better understanding," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Sunday.
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