Dharamshala, Apr 26 : The Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, is cautiously hopeful about the outcome of the talks with Beijing on the future of Tibet, following overtures by China.
"They have invited His Holiness' envoys to meet as early as possible, but we don't know what will be the result of these meetings," Rinpoche, told reporters here on Friday.
Meanwhile, thousands of exiled Tibetans staged a protest march in Dharamsala, demanding the immediate release of the Panchen Lama, whom they claim is a prisoner in China since 1995.
Holding copies of his photograph and waving Tibetan flags, old men and schoolchildren shouted: "China release him now".
Friday marked the 19th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was chosen by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama after the death of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1989.
Beijing and the Dalai Lama made rival choices for his successor, and the Dalai Lama's choice, then aged six, suddenly disappeared from public view.
Tibetans around the world say he was kidnapped by the Chinese authorities and human rights watchdogs have called him the world's youngest political prisoner.
China has denied that the boy is under house arrest and insists that he and his family do not want to be disturbed.
Many Tibetans shouted: "Free Tibet" and "Where is the Panchen Lama?" as volunteers released the Lama's photograph in balloons. Prayers were also held at Dharamsala,
"Everywhere in the world when we say birthday, it is a term of celebration, but regarding the Tibetan issue, especially the Panchen Lama, he is the youngest political prisoner in the world. So, when there is to be celebrations about cakes to be cut and balloons to be blown, for us, it is a day of mourning," said Dolma Cheophel, a Tibetan protestor.
Protests were also staged in Kolkata.
Protests by the Tibetans started on March 10, the 50th anniversary of their Uprising Day.
Various Indian cities and towns, including Dharamsala have been witnessing intermittent demonstrations following the unrest in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.