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奥运新闻

UPDATE 2-China attacks Dalai Lama but offers more talks

(Recasts, updates throughout)

BEIJING, July 3 (Reuters) - China launched another attack on Tibet’s Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, on Thursday but also offered to continue talks provided he showed “positive behaviour” as the country readies for the Olympic Games.

The comments, carried in state media, came as China made its first official statement about a secretive meeting with the Dalai Lama’s envoys in Beijing this week.

Du Qinglin, head of the ruling Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which deals with ethnic minorities and religions, met with representatives of the Dalai Lama in talks that started on Tuesday.

As it counts down to the Aug. 8-24 Games, China has faced international pressure to pursue talks with the exiled Buddhist leader after rioting and protests shook Tibetan areas in March.

But China has accused the Dalai Lama of instigating the unrest, a charge he has repeatedly denied. And in comments reported by the official Xinhua news agency, Du laid down broad demands to the Dalai’s envoys.

“The door to dialogue is always open,” Du said, according to Xinhua.

But he added that the Buddhist leader should “openly and clearly promise and though concrete actions not support activities disturbing or sabotaging the Olympic Games, not support, plan or incite violent criminal activities,” and not support any efforts to achieve Tibetan independence.

“If the Dalai Lama truly shows positive behaviour, there can be a next talk before the end of the year,” other Communist Party officials said, according to Xinhua.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has said he wants a high level of autonomy for Tibet, but not outright independence.

Beijing says his conditions amount to a bid for independence.

NEW CRITICISM

Xinhua launched its latest round of harsh criticism of the monk immediately after releasing reports on the latest talks, pointing out the Dalai Lama’s planned trips to the U.S. and France during the Olympic Games.

“While it’s been more than two months since the March 14 riot in Tibet, the Dalai Lama has shown no intention of taking a break or to display any sincerity in reining in his negative comments on the Chinese government,” Xinhua said in an English-language piece.

The envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama’s representatives in Washington and Switzerland respectively, also toured Olympic facilities and met Tibetologists in Beijing.

The last round of such talks was in May.

A representative of the Dalai Lama in northern India said he had no information about the latest discussions in Beijing.

“We have no information as of now on how the talks went, but we do expect the envoys to be here tomorrow afternoon and then they will hold a meeting with his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and tell us what exactly happened,” Chhime Chhoekyapa, a Dalai Lama aide, told Reuters by telephone.

The current round of talks was delayed by three weeks in the wake of China’s deadliest earthquake in three decades.

Du, the Chinese official, explicitly demanded the Dalai Lama “not support and earnestly restrain the Tibet Youth Congress’ violent terrorist activities”.

The radical Tibet Youth Congress has vowed to use violence and terrorism to achieve Tibet independence and the Dalai Lama has said he was unable to influence the group’s actions.

The English-language Xinhua piece doubted the distancing and alleged a “conspiracy network”.

“While some ‘pro-Tibet Independence’ activists claimed their goals were different from the Dalai Lama, evidence has shown conspiracies behind all the plots initiated by them were linked,” Xinhua said.

For China, looking to the August Games as a proud affirmation of its wealth and status, the link between the Olympics and Tibet is especially sensitive.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will get a cold public shoulder at the Beijing Olympics if he attends, Chinese state media said on Thursday in a sign of growing irritation over Sarkozy’s stance on Tibet.

Sarkozy has said he will decide next week whether to attend the opening of the Games, with his choice depending on how talks go between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s envoys.

“Chinese people do not want French President Nicolas Sarkozy to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics,” the China Daily said, citing an Internet survey by Sina.com.cn, a popular local website.

During a trip to Britain in May, the Dalai Lama said he was willing to attend the Olympics if talks between his envoys and China yielded results. He did not elaborate. (Additional reporting by Bappa Majumdar in Dharamsala and Guo Shipeng and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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