Tibetan representatives of the Dalai Lama have met with Chinese officials in Switzerland -- in what is apparently the first such meeting outside China.
The office of the Tibetan spiritual leader said the two sides held talks Thursday at China's embassy in Bern. It said the meeting was one of a series of contacts that started in September, 2002.
Two top representatives of the Dalai Lama Special Envoy Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen and several Tibetan officials met with Zhu Weiqun a Chinese Communist Party official who has attended such meetings before.
The U.S. State Department later praised the meeting, saying it was encouraged that dialogue between the two sides has been maintained.
A spokesman said Friday Washington continues to urge China's leaders to engage in substantive discussions with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve long-standing differences.