The Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Lodi Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, who visited China from May 25 to June 8, 2003, said on June 18 that their task was solely to establish contact with the Chinese leadership so that it will eventually lead to the beginning of talks. They were addressing a press conference in Dharamsala following their briefing to the members of the Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet) and the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

“We have followed the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and we tried to establish a direct relation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, which we hope will eventually lead to a negotiation,” quoted Gyari as saying.

Gyari told the media that while there has been progress following the second visit it would be some time before talks could begin. He said both sides have been working towards the creation of a conducive atmosphere.

A correspondent listed some of the negative developments since the first visit of the delegation, including the death sentence on Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, execution of Lobsang Dhondup, China’s relentless criticism of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s recent tour of Europe, and the forceful repatriation of Tibetans from Nepal. In the light of these, he asked how the envoys could claim that the Chinese side has contributed towards creating a conducive atmosphere. Gyari responded saying it is only because there is disagreement between the two sides and because there is problem that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been making efforts to begin talks. Referring to the developments, Gyari said we will continue to face such problems, but our effort is to see how we can make progress. He said in the past there have been twist and turns in our contact with the Chinese leadership and even now there are disagreements.On a question to whether the contact that has been established will be a stable one, Gyari responded that the envoys were making sure that the knot of contact that they were trying to tie would be a firm one. He said relations had improved following the second visit, but that even now the atmosphere is not totally satisfactory as the problem is something that has been there for the past few decades. He said there is lot of work to be done to clear the atmosphere.