Melbourne, Apr.26 : An independent political analyst in Beijing has said that China's move to reopen a dialogue with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is the best starting point for a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue.
Liu Xiaobo, however, said that he did not expect significant results, since the Dalai Lama's claim for increased autonomy, especially for the entire ethnic Tibetan area, would not be accepted by Beijing.
"But it's still better to have such a conversation than to have no talking at all," The Australian quoted Liu, as saying.
Liu's reaction came as China last night moved to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama in an effort to prevent the Olympic Games from being engulfed in controversy over its stance on Tibet.
The official Xinhua news agency said Beijing would start negotiations with a personal representative of the exiled Tibetan leader "in the coming days".
It said the first talks in almost a year followed repeated requests "made by the Dalai side for resuming talks".
But the approach also follows the transformation of the "journey of harmony" - as the international Olympic torch relay is known - into a war of words and frequent violence between Chinese nationalists and supporters of the Dalai Lama.
Tenzin Takla, a spokesman for the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, last night welcomed the offer as "a step in the right direction". He said face-to-face meetings could only resolve the issue.
Within China, the reaction to international criticism over Tibet has sparked a nationalist surge, heightening anxiety over the impact on the Olympics, which start in Beijing in just 15 weeks.
International leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his trip to China this month, have urged Beijing to return to the negotiating table with the Dalai Lama, who has said that he seeks only autonomy, not independence, for Tibet, and that he does not want to disrupt the Olympics.
However, China reverted to Cultural Revolution-style denunciations of the Dalai Lama following the unrest in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and other Tibetan areas that began on March 14 and has left dozens of people dead.
Six rounds of talks over the past five years between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's envoy, Lodi Gyari, have made only negligible progress.
Gyari revealed this week that the Dalai Lama had sent a letter to China's President, Hu Jintao, on March 19 offering to send emissaries to Tibet to calm the situation.
This is the first time that Beijing has announced talks before a meeting with the Dalai Lama's representative, underlining that it wants the world to know that it is holding out an olive branch. Previously, it has informed the public only after a round of negotiations has been completed.
Xinhua did not say where the negotiations would take place, although all previous talks have taken place in provincial Chinese cities.