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China attacks Dalai Lama as talks continue

BEIJING (Reuters) - China launched another attack on exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday even as his envoys and Chinese officials had a second day of secretive fence-mending talks.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a speech during a news conference in Sydney June 12, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s hardline Communist Party boss, repeated government claims that riots in Tibet in March were instigated by the “Dalai clique” -- Communist jargon for his supporters -- who were intent on causing a bloodbath.

“The March 14 incident was planned for a long time by the Dalai clique with the support and instigation of hostile Western forces,” the Tibet Daily paraphrased Zhang as telling a visiting delegation from an organization of the disabled.

The Dalai Lama has denied the charge.

“They harbored the evil intention of turning the incident into a bloodbath, of disrupting the Beijing Olympics and destroying Tibet’s stability and political harmony,” he added.

Other state media were largely silent on the talks, which could burnish the country’s international image weeks before the Beijing Olympics, referring only to Foreign Ministry comments that China opposed any nation’s leader meeting the Dalai Lama.

Thubten Samphel, secretary of the Tibetan government in exile’s Department of Information, told Reuters the talks would likely continue until the evening, but added he had no details about how the they were going.

Samphel hit back at Zhang’s latest attack on the Dalai Lama, though.

“These protests are taking place because of China’s wrong policies being implemented in Tibet. If there is anyone to blame it’s the Chinese authorities,” he said.

“There are protests all over Tibet and all of them have been peaceful.”

It is their second closed-door meeting since rioting erupted in Tibet in March which heaped international pressure on China to deal with the Nobel laureate, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

The round of talks, the sixth since 2002 and delayed by three weeks in the wake of China’s deadliest earthquake in three decades, was preceded by a glut of goodwill, arguably somewhat more from the Dalai Lama’s side than China’s.

During a trip to Britain in May, he said he was willing to attend the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics if talks between his envoys and China yielded results. He did not elaborate.

But a Chinese source with ties to the leadership told Reuters an Olympic invite for the Dalai Lama or a summit with President Hu Jintao was out of the question unless Hu can mollify conservatives in his ruling Communist Party.

The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for the Himalayan region. But China is unconvinced and brands him a separatist.

Anti-Chinese protesters had disrupted the international leg of the Olympic torch relay and Chinese studying or living abroad staged counter-protests.

The government-in-exile has urged Tibetans to stop protesting outside Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide.

In a concession, Chinese authorities have freed many Tibetans detained in the wake of the rioting, a source with knowledge of the releases said, requesting anonymity.

Chinese authorities also reciprocated the Dalai Lama’s goodwill by reopening Tibet to foreign tourists last month.

Additional reporting by Abhishek Madhukar in Dharamsala