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Sarkozy Defies China with Dalai Lama Talks

Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader

French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied China on Dec.6,2008 by meeting Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and said Europe shared the Dalai's concerns over the situation in his homeland.

But Sarkozy, whose decision has sparked Chinese nationalist calls for a boycott of French products, also stressed that he regarded Tibet as part of China and said there was no need to "dramatise" his encounter with the Buddhist leader.

"The meeting went very well ... The Chinese authorities knew perfectly well this meeting would take place before the end of the year," Sarkozy told reporters after his talks, which lasted about 30 minutes.

China called off a summit with the European Union last Monday in protest against Sarkozy's plan to meet the Dalai Lama, branded by Beijing as a "splittist" for advocating self-determination for his mountain homeland.

Sarkozy said the Dalai, who welcomed him by draping a 'kata' or traditional Tibetan white scarf on his shoulder, had said at the meeting that he does not seek independence for Tibet. "I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities."

Asked about the situation in Tibet, Sarkozy said: "The Dalai Lama shared with me his worries, worries which are shared in Europe. We have had a wide discussion of this question."




 

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