"The agenda of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the same - that the problem has to be solved only through dialogue."

Taklha added that the exact venue for the meeting in China had not been confirmed but said the envoys would return to India by the beginning of February.

After their last interaction in November 2008, China said the door would be kept open for future discussions despite the "serious divergences" that remained.

Lodi G Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen will again lead what will be the ninth round of talks, according to officials in Dharamshala, the Indian town where the Dalai Lama has lived for five decades and where many Tibetan exiles are based.

Last year, China said it would consider reviving the dialogue, which began in 2002, but has often repeated demands that the Tibetan leader renounce "separatist" activities - which he denies supporting.

Foundation

The US government has backed the meeting, with Philip Crowley, a State Department spokesman, saying that Washington "strongly supports dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives to address longstanding differences".

Dalai Lama supporters want more autonomy for Tibet [GALLO/GETTY] 
"The administration hopes this meeting will produce positive results and provide a foundation for future discussions to resolve outstanding issues," he said.

Britain also welcomed the resumption of talks.

Ivan Lewis, the junior foreign office minister who made the first ever trip to Tibet by a member of the British government in September, welcomed the news.

"I urge both sides to enter these talks in good faith and to make progress towards meaningful autonomy for Tibet," he said.

"Peaceful dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's representatives is the only way to bring about a lasting and peaceful solution to the problems in Tibet."

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled his homeland following a failed uprising in 1959 against Chinese rule.

China has labelled him a terrorist, backing a violent campaign of unrest in a bid to secure Tibetan independence.

However the Dalai Lama says he is seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet anmd is opposed to violence in any form.

Tibet and nearby ethnically Tibetan regions erupted in violence in March 2008 on the 49th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape into exile.

Since then the region Beijing has stepped up security in the region, and human rights groups say dozens have been arrested.