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Tibetan Delegation to China Hold Press Conference in Dharamsala - 2002-09-29

An envoy for the Dalai Lama is expressing guarded hope for a new dialogue between the Chinese government and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

In a statement released over the weekend, Special Envoy Lodi Gyari said contacts between Tibetans in exile and Beijing have been re-established, after they were broken off nearly a decade ago.

Mr. Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen just returned from a more than two week visit to Tibet and the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

Mr.Gyari said he visited many Tibetan holy sites in China -- including the Dalai Lama's former residence, the Potala Palace, in Lhasa.

He said he also held frank exchanges with officials from the Chinese Communist Party, and was impressed by what he described as greater flexibility in their mental attitude than on an earlier visit in the 1980s.

The Chinese government has not made any official comment.

Earlier, the head of Tibet's government in exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, expressed hope that negotiations with China for greater Tibetan autonomy could begin by next July.