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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Brazilian officials sit out Dalai Lama visit

September 27, 2011

SAO PAULO — The Dalai Lama brought his message of global tolerance to Sao Paulo Friday, but no Brazilian officials attended the meetings by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, whose trips are closely watched by China, Brazil's top trading partner.

"I am here as one of nearly seven billion human beings," the Dalai Lama said, as he playfully posed for photos and spoke to reporters.

In a preamble before taking carefully vetted questions on non-political topics, the Dalai Lama urged greater harmony in the world on the basis of "love, forgiveness and tolerance."

In "today's world there are a lot of problems of our own creation," he said, putting forth his view that "we are sharing one planet, this blue planet, so we must consider our brothers and our sisters."

The Dalai Lama's three-day visit to Sao Paulo, which wraps up Saturday after a public speech in a city stadium, was notable for the conspicuous absence of any Brazilian officials.

That was different from the Dalai Lama's previous stop, in Mexico City, where he last week met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, to Beijing's outrage. China has consistently sought to sideline the Dalai Lama to contain discussion of its control over Tibet.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. He later founded Tibet's government in exile in Dharamshala, northern India, but gave up his political leadership role in May.

Brazil, which counts China as its top trading partner, can ill-afford to irritate the Asian giant.

Exchanges between the two countries have soared more than 2,300 percent in the past decade, and last year topped 56.4 billion dollars.

China is an avid customer of Brazil's iron ore and soya products, and is injecting billions of dollars in credit into Brazil's petroleum sector to get preferential access to its oil.

In return, China is flooding Brazil's market with cheap shoes, clothes, electronics, cars and motorbikes.

Brazil however recently expressed annoyance at China policies keeping its currency low, while Brazil's currency is being pushed higher by investors, making Brazilian manufactured exports ever more expensive compared to Chinese exports.

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