When people think about dialogue between leaders they often think of people shaking hands in public in some media event. The trouble with these sorts of summits is that they happen at the *end* of discussions not at the beginning of them. You just can’t do any real sort of discussion while you have a camera pointed at you, and any real discussion and dialogue usually happens between aides of the leaders in a way that both sides can deny that they ever met each other.
Ma Ying-Jeou made it a point of saying that he would not be meeting Hu Jintao during his first four years in office, and that’s really not a bad thing since he also pointed out specifically that these handshakes are media events.
What matters is not if Hu Jintao gets to shake hands with the Dalai Lama, but rather whether or not there are messages being sent back and forth between the people or not.
The other problem with these meetings is that what is the point of dialogue if you have nothing much to say or if you are papering over the real difficulties and disagreements.