China 'will not talk' to new Tibetan leader

Lobsang Sangay has said he is ready to negotiate with China "anytime, anywhere"

China appears to have ruled out talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile's new prime minister, Lobsang Sangay.

A top Chinese official dealing with Tibetan contacts said Beijing would only meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

In an interview with state media, Zhu Weiqun said the exile government was an illegal group with no recognition.

 Mr Sangay was elected by Tibetan exiles around the world last month to take on the Dalai Lama's political role.

 The Dalai Lama said in March that he wanted to devolve this responsibility to an elected official, saying that such a move was in the best interests of the Tibetan people.

 The Dalai Lama will retain his role as Tibetan spiritual leader.

 Analysts say he aims to ensure that even if China's government tries to select the next Dalai Lama, the Tibetans will have an elected leader they can look to who is outside China and beyond the Communist Party's control.

 In recent years, the Communist Party's United Front Work Department has held unsuccessful on-off talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys.

 And Vice-Minister Zhu's comments show little hope of improved relations between Beijing and the new exiled leadership in India.

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