Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama leave for China tomorrow (June 29) in order to begin a sixth round of dialogue with the Chinese authorities, according to a statement issued today by the Tibetan government in exile based in Dharamsala, India.

The envoys, led by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, have met with Chinese leaders five times since 2002, with the most recent round of talks taking place more than a year ago, in February 2006. The Dalai Lama, who is 72 next week, has consistently said that he does not seek independence for Tibet and aims for a solution based on Tibetan autonomy within the People’s Republic of China.

Mary Beth Markey, Vice President for International Advocacy of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The position of the Dalai Lama supports the unity and integrity of the People’s Republic of China, but Tibetans require genuine regional autonomy to preserve their distinctive religious, cultural and linguistic identity.

“So far, the senior Chinese leadership has shown itself to be out of step with the rest of the world in recognizing that the Dalai Lama must be a part of a solution for Tibet’s future. We hope that the importance of the 2008 Olympic Games to China may add an extra impetus to the Chinese leadership to respond positively to the willingness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to make a pilgrimage to China.”

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, who leaves India for China tomorrow after discussions with the Dalai Lama, said that the last round of dialogue had led to a “better and deeper understanding of each other’s position” but said that it had also become clear that there were fundamental differences even in the approach of addressing the issue between the two sides.

The U.S. State Department’s third annual ’Report on Tibet Negotiations’ noted that: “The lack of resolution of these problems leads to greater tensions inside China and will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and other nations.”

Note to editors:

1. A full transcript of Lodi Gyari’s briefing, ‘The Current State of Discussions between the Dalai Lama and the Government of the People’s Republic of China’ is available for downloading at the website of the Brookings Institution at http://www.brook.edu/fp/china/events/20061114.pdf.

2. This spring several European Parliaments passed resolutions in support of the dialogue process. In a statement issued in Strasbourg on April 26, the European Parliament called on the European Union Council and the Commission to support the Sino-Tibetan dialogue at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A6-2007-0128&language=EN&mode=XML.