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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?"

Former French Premier slams Paris' honoring Dalai

April 24, 2008

China Daily

Former French Premier Jean-Pierre Raffarin has criticized Paris's
decision to honor the Dalai Lama and stressed there is no
"confrontation" with China following angry protests, a Chinese newspaper
reported on Wednesday.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who arrives Thursday bearing a message from
President Nicolas Sarkozy, said Paris city council was contradicting
official policy by conferring citizenship of the capital on the Dalai Lama.

Raffarin characterized the honor by Paris city council as "a very
serious political mistake," according to the text of an interview
published Wednesday in the China Youth Daily.

"When making comments on some international issues, (Paris Mayor
Bertrand Delanoe) must maintain consensus with the state's diplomatic
strategy," he was quoted as saying in the interview, published in Chinese.

"While President Sarkozy makes efforts to improve France-China
relations, the Paris administration is running in the opposite direction
to the French government. This is very bad."

During the interview, Raffarin also says he believes that Delanoe's move
is an attempt to garner votes within the Socialist Party as he vies for
party leadership.

China on Tuesday expressed its strong discontent and resolute opposition
to Paris city council awarding the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship of
the city.

"This act grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and severely
infringes on Sino-French relations, as well as the existing friendly
relations between Beijing and Paris in particular," said Jiang Yu,
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, at a press conference.

Raffarin was quoted as saying that there "exist no strategic differences
or confrontation between France and China."

"The recent tense atmosphere between the two nations is a 'clash of
emotions' between the two peoples," he said.

Raffarin was to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday and was
expected to hand over a letter from Sarkozy to Chinese President Hu
Jintao later this week.

Meanwhile, the Chinese commerce ministry cautioned against the Carrefour
boycott, pointing out that it employs 40,000 Chinese and that up to 95
percent of its products were made in China.

"We also welcome the expression of opposition to 'Tibetan independence'
and the support for the Beijing Olympics made by Carrefour," a commerce
ministry spokesman said, after the retailer denied allegations of
supporting the Dalai Lama.

Sarkozy's diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte is also due in China by
the weekend, bringing another message from the president.

On Monday, visiting French Senate leader Christian Poncelet delivered
yet another letter from Sarkozy to Jin Jing, a handicapped Chinese
athlete who was assaulted by Tibetan separatists during the Paris torch

"On the Tibet issue, President Hu Jintao has already expressed that the
Chinese government is willing to hold dialogue with the Dalai Lama, but
that there are certain preconditions," Raffarin said.

"President Sarkozy believes these preconditions are completely
reasonable," he was quoted as saying.
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