TOKYO (AFP) — The Dalai Lama voiced hope Wednesday that the latest round of talks between his envoys and China will lead to progress, saying the situation in Tibet was "critical."
In a letter read out to a conference in Tokyo of Japanese supporters of Tibet, the Dalai Lama said that the round of talks that opened Tuesday in Beijing "has come at a crucial time."
"I hope this seventh round of talks will contribute in making some marked improvement in our discussions," said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has lived in exile for nearly a half-century in India.
China has said little about the talks in Beijing, which opened three months after major protests in Tibet against China's controversial rule over the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan territory.
The crackdown on the unrest, which spread to neighbouring Tibetan-populated areas of western China, sparked global demonstrations that marred the month-long international journey of the Beijing Olympic torch.
The latest talks come after an informal round of discussions was held on May 4 in the Chinese city of Shenzhen following global pressure to restart dialogue after the unrest. The formal talks, launched in 2002, broke off last year.
"Tibet today is passing through a very critical period with the very survival of the Tibetan people at stake. The situation in Tibet continues to be grim," the Dalai Lama said.
"China's current unremitting efforts to assimilate Tibet are eroding the Tibetan people's distinct cultural and spiritual heritage.
"For this reason it is important for the international community to speak up on behalf of the Tibetan people," he said.
The Dalai Lama, the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, repeated that he was not seeking Tibet's independence from China or pursuing violence as alleged by China.
"We remain committed to resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue and discussion in finding a mutually acceptable solution -- that is, within the constitution of the People's Republic of China," he said.
"We are neither anti-China nor anti-Chinese and we have great admiration for China and its people. It is extremely important that we reach out to the Chinese brothers and sisters, wherever possible," he said.
The Tokyo conference drew some 200 people including lawmakers from Japan's opposition.
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