04/26/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET - JAPAN
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World leaders applaud the announcement of talks between China and the Dalai Lama

Favourable comments worldwide over yesterday's announcement, but also anticipation of future results. Meanwhile, the torch passes "unharmed" through Japan.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - World leaders are applauding the decision of Beijing to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama.  Meanwhile, the torch passes "unharmed" through Japan.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy says yesterday's announcement by the state news agency Xinhua is "an important step" and a source of "some real hope".  The agency says an official delegation "will have contact and consultation with Dalai's private representative in the coming days".  But the same source clarified that the Dalai Lama is expected to make "credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, to stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks".

White House spokesperson Dana Perino has expressed the "hope that this signals a change in relations".  Japanese foreign minister Masahiro Komura speaks of a "crucial first step" and expresses great confidence.

Great Britain and Germany are also favourable, while Tenzin Takhla, a spokesman of the Tibetan spiritual leader, emphasises that "only face-to-face meetings can lead to a resolution of the Tibetan issue".  According to Beijing sources, the two sides have already had unofficial contact for two weeks.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, is being more cautious.  On a visit to Beijing, and after meeting with president Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen Jiabao, Barroso said he was "happy", but warned that "one cannot expect immediate openness, but we must encourage this dialogue, which is already an improvement".  Everyone emphasises how until now Beijing has described the Dalai Lama as a "terrorist", refusing any openness.

Meanwhile, some observe that genuine results must be shown, in part because of the fact that there is a state campaign underway in the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan to "educate, rehabilitate, and salvage as much as possible the many Buddhist monks who have been misled by the separatist plots of the Dalai Lama clique", as Bai Ma maintains, chairman of the Qinghai provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.  Meanwhile, Xinhua announces that Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, has been reopened for Chinese tourists, but remains closed to foreign journalists, with the exception of those "escorted" by public officials.

Today, the torch passed "unharmed" through Japan, where there were protest demonstrations, including the pelting of the torch with eggs, but the more than 3,000 policemen immediately stopped them.  The torch set off to Nagano from a parking area under tight surveillance and closed to the public, after the Buddhist temple of Zenkoji decided not to host it, because of the repression against Buddhist monks in Tibet.

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