Dalai Lama to meet French President Sarkozy Dec 6


Dharamsala : Despite stiff opposition by the Chinese government, the much-awaited meeting between the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been finalised and will take place in Poland early next month.

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“The Dalai Lama has been invited to Poland to attend ceremonies to mark the 25th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Polish labour leader Lech Walesa in the first week of December,” Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the spiritual leader, told IANS Tuesday.

“French President Sarkozy, among other dignitaries, is also attending the ceremonies. The two will meet in Poland Dec 6,” Samphel added.

During his 12-day visit to France during the Beijing Olympics, the Dalai Lama met Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Human Rights Minister Rama Yade and First Lady Carla Bruni. However, Sarkozy did not meet the spiritual leader.

Officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile said that Sarkozy had acted diplomatically by not meeting the Dalai Lama during his visit in August. Relations between France and China reached at a low ebb in April in the wake of protests by Tibetans during the Olympic torch’s passage in Paris.

“Sarkozy diplomatically handled the situation on by not meeting the spiritual guru (in France), and by participating in the opening ceremony of the Games,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

China has already criticised a planned meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reaffirmed Beijing’s opposition to any form of contact between the Buddhist leader and foreign heads of government.

“At present, China’s relations with both France and the European Union are improving and developing… We urge the French side to proceed from the overall interest of bilateral relations,” Gang said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama Tuesday left for Nigeria. From there, he will go to Czech Republic, and Belgium before reaching Poland.

The 73-year-old monk has travelled across the world to garner support for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.

In the wake of repeated failures to find a solution to the vexed Tibet issue, the Buddhist leader said Sunday that he was ready to pass on his political role to Tibetans in exile and indicated that he was ready to choose his successor, probably a girl.

The Dalai Lama blamed Chinese officials for the failure of bilateral talks, saying : “My faith in the Chinese officials is getting thinner and thinner, but my faith in Chinese people remains strong.”