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Canada's PM to meet with Dalai Lama

September 18, 2007

OTTAWA September 18, 2007 (AFP) — Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet with the Dalai Lama next month in a move likely to peeve Beijing which views the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader as a separatist.

A spokesman for Harper was not immediately available for comment, but the Canadian leader has previously taken a hard-line view of China, criticizing its human rights record and scorning alleged Chinese spying in this country,
the daily Globe and Mail said Tuesday.

Earlier, China warned Germany against receiving Tibet's spiritual leader, calling him a "splittist" who aimed to damage the country's interests.

"The Dalai Lama is not simply a religious figure. Underneath the disguise of religion, he is a long-time political exile engaged in splittist activities," China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said after
Germany announced Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to meet the Dalai Lama in Berlin on September 23.

China has bristled for years at the Dalai Lama's enormous international following. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent approach to handling relations with China.US President George W. Bush signed a bill last year giving the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal over Chinese objections.

Former prime minister Paul Martin was the first Canadian leader to meet with the religious leader in April 2004, for brief talks.

The 71-year-old Dalai Lama has led a Tibetan government-in-exile in India since 1959. Chinese troops took over the Himalayan region in 1950.

Beijing has refused to allow him to return to Tibet, where he remains revered as Tibetan Buddhism's highest spiritual authority.


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