Pallavi Aiyar

Beijing: China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday confirmed the government’s decision to reopen a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, although details of the timing and format of the talks remained unclear.

“The relevant authorities agreed to have contact with the Dalai Lama,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters at a press conference. “We hope the Dalai can cherish this opportunity, recognise the situation and change his position to take concrete measures to stop his criminal acts of violence, stop his sabotage of the Beijing Olympics and his separatist activities, so as to create conditions for the next step of talk,” she added.

The move to reopen talks was first announced via Xinhua, the state-owned news agency, on Friday last.

According to the Xinhua report, government officials are expected to meet with a private representative of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, “in the coming days.”

Ms. Jiang said the “specifics of the talks” were still undecided and that details were not yet available.

The talks would be the first encounter between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama’s envoys in a year.

Beijing has blamed the Dalai Lama for masterminding the protests that took place in Lhasa and other ethnically Tibetan parts of China last month, a charge the spiritual leader denies.

Jailed over violence

Xinhua reports: A further 13 persons were sentenced on Tuesday, bringing the number of persons imprisoned at present for involvement in the March 14 riot to 30, said a Lhasa court. Three of the 30 were sentenced to life and the shortest jail term was three years, according to the court which passed down the sentences at a public session.