WASHINGTON, Oct. 4--A special envoy for Tibet�s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said he noted a new �sincerity and honesty� among Chinese officials in discussing Tibet during his visit last month to the Himalayan territory, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

�Our contact with the Chinese leadership up until now was not pleasant. We were snubbed,� Lodi Gyari said in an interview broadcast Friday, his first since returning here Tuesday from an 18-day visit to China and Tibet. �But now we will work with the belief and trust that the new Chinese leadership of this new era will work with sincerity and honesty,� he told RFA�s Tibetan service.

The Dalai Lama has instructed his envoys to �work vigorously, in an unprecedented manner, to sustain and further develop this official contact,� he added. �Both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the exile government have decided to work toward a settlement that would be mutually beneficial for both Chinese and Tibetans. Therefore we will make a variety of efforts, including trips to China,� Gyari said.

Gyari traveled to China on Sept. 9 and returned to Dharamsala, in northern India, on Sept. 27. The four envoys visited Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai in China, and Lhasa, Nyingtri, and Shigatse in Tibet during their visit--the first official Tibetan mission to China and Tibet since 1993.

Other members of the delegation were Bhuchung Tsering, director of the International Campaign for Tibet; Sonam Norbu Dakpo, secretary in the Tibetan exile government's Department of Information and International Relations; and special envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen.

�This time we could go to China and also to some parts of Tibet. We are hoping, and we do recognize, that the Chinese leadership is honest and sincere in their efforts. Nothing is 100 percent sure, but we will see how things develop over the coming weeks and months,� he said.

Chinese officials voiced no new opinions on Tibet during the visit, Gyari said, although the two sides did exchange ideas.

"Dialogue on such an important issue must be based on hope. If we had lost hope, the Tibetan struggle might have died a decade ago," he said. "Under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most powerful driving force is hope. Therefore we should never lose our hope. At the same time, as the Tibetan saying goes, Tibet should not be obsessed with hope."

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile have repeatedly urged Beijing to lift curbs on Tibetans under its authority and improve its record on civil liberties and human rights.

China annexed Tibet in 1951. After a failed uprising in 1959 the Dalai Lama and some 70,000 Tibetans fled Tibet for India and Nepal.

Gyari�s visit followed other developments that have raised hopes of d�tente between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate. Chinese authorities have released six political prisoners this year, and Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama�s elder brother, returned to Tibet in July for the first time in decades. Foreign reporters and Western parliamentary delegations have meanwhile been granted unusual access to the Himalayan territory.

In its 2001 report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department asserted that "according to credible reports, Chinese government authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses in Tibet, including instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully expressing their political or religious views.�

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

Contact: Sarah Jackson-Han, 202 530 7774 #####


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