BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) Envoys of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader who has been branded a separatist by Beijing, said fundamental differences remained after talks in China on allowing more autonomy for the Buddhist region.
It was the fifth round of negotiations since contacts between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives resumed in 2002, but there have so far been no concrete results of a process the Chinese government does not even openly acknowledge exists.
''There is a better and deeper understanding of each other's position and the fundamental differences that continue to exist in the positions held by the two parties,'' envoy Lodi Gyari said in a statement, adding that the trip included a visit to the southern autonomous region of Guangxi.
''This round of discussion also made it clear that there is a major difference even in the approach in addressing the issue. However, we remain committed to the dialogue process and are hopeful that progress will be possible by continuing the engagement.'' The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, nine years after Communist troops invaded the remote, mountainous region.
Although Beijing considers him a traitor, many Tibetans still remain loyal to the figure they regard as a god-king.
Analysts say China is committed to the dialogue in part because it fears that if the 70-year-old Dalai Lama should die in exile, it could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule and leave a destabilising leadership vacuum.
That could also strengthen support among Tibetans for full independence, especially among youth frustrated with the Dalai Lama's ''middle way'' approach that advocates autonomy for Tibet as a part of China.
REUTERS PR RN0941