China's government says it has agreed to meet with a private representative of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in the coming days.
A report Friday by China's state-run Xinhua news agency says officials agreed to the meeting in response to requests from the Dalai Lama. The report did not provide any additional details.
The Chinese officials said they hope dialogue will push the Dalai Lama to stop inciting violence in China and sabotaging the Beijing Olympics. The Dalai Lama says he is opposed to violence, and that he does not want to disrupt the Olympics.
Tibet's government-in-exile welcomed the invitation for dialogue, but said it was still waiting for more details.
The United States, European Union and France also welcomed the Chinese announcement.
The international community has been stepping up calls for Beijing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama ever since China began its crackdown on anti-government protests in Tibet and other Tibetan areas last month.
U.S. national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Washington welcomed the news that Chinese authorities were willing to meet with the Dalai Lama.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called China's decision a "major step." Mr. Sarkozy has suggested he might not attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games if the situation in Tibet does not improve.
Tibet's government-in-exile says more than 150 people died in a Chinese crackdown since mid-March. China blames Tibetan rioters for the deaths of at least 20 people.
China frequently blames the Dalai Lama for masterminding the protests, and accuses him of trying to separate the Himalayan region from China. The Dalai Lama denies the charges, and says he only wants autonomy for Tibet.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters
Press Statement by Kalon Tripa on Xinhua report of China's wishing to meet H.H. the Dalai Lama's envoys