May 2nd, 2008 11:31 EST
Chinese officials to meet with Dalai Lama envoys Saturday
Envoys of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are scheduled to hold "informal" talks with Chinese officials on Saturday and try to begin defusing tensions over the remote region.
A statement Friday from Dalai Lama's office did not give any details on where or when the talks would take place, but Tibet government-in-exile officials confirm that the envoys have already arrived in Hong Kong.
The statement says the two envoys-- Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen-- will convey the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about how China has handled protests in Tibet and other Tibetan regions of the country. The envoys will also offer suggestions on how to bring peace to the region.
The two sides have met several times in the past, but with little improvement in relations. The talks will be the first such meeting since peaceful protests turned violent on March 14 in Lhasa and began spreading to other Tibetan regions in China.
The Dalai Lama says he is opposed to violence and is seeking meaningful autonomy for Tibet, but China accuses him of masterminding the recent unrest and of secretly promoting Tibet's independence.
China says 18 civilians and one policeman died when protests turned violent on March 14. But the Tibetan government-in-exile says Chinese security forces killed 203 Tibetan protesters, many of them in Lhasa following the riot.
China's handling of the Tibetan unrest has triggered international protests.
In Nepal Friday, more than 100 Tibetan exiles, mostly young monks and nuns, were detained during a protest outside the Chinese embassy building in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.
Tibetan exiles have been protesting in Kathmandu almost daily since March 14.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.