The United States warned China that failure to hold a dialogue now with Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama could harden the position of moderate pro-Tibetan groups.
"If Beijing does not engage with the Dalai Lama now, it will only serve to strengthen those who advocate extremist views," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told a Senate hearing on China's crackdown in Tibet.
Prominent radical Tibetan exiles have demanded a review of the Dalai Lama's non-violent campaign for autonomy within China following Beijing's crackdown on protests in the Himalayan territory last month.
Negroponte said there was no better person for authorities in China to talk to than the Dalai Lama since he was the undisputed spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.
"He is also a man of peace," the deputy to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said of the the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, who has lived in northern India since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising in 1959.
"The Chinese government should seize the opportunity to talk to those Tibetans, represented by the Dalai Lama, who oppose violence and do not seek independence for Tibet," he told Senators critical of the Bush administration failure so far to prod Beijing to hold a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
Negroponte also warned China that stability would not be possible unless Beijing addressed the grievances of the Tibetans and worked together with them to preserve their culture, language and religious freedom.
President George W Bush and other government leaders have been pushing Beijing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve the Tibet issue but to no avail.