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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

German President won't meet Dalai Lama

May 13, 2008

Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA)
May 11, 2008 [12:28]

BERLIN -- German President Horst Koehler will not be meeting with the Dalai Lama when he comes to Germany later this month, according to a report Sunday in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The news follows revelation earlier this week that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also not meet with the Tibetan Buddhist religious leader during his four-day visit that begins May 16. The Dalai Lama's European representative, Tseten Chhoekyapa, criticized the decision, saying he thought Steinmeier had been "badly advised."

Koehler's spokesman Martin Kothe told Bild am Sonntag that a meeting was impossible because of scheduling conflicts.

Television journalist Franz Alt dismissed the reason as a poor excuse. "The president is kneeling for the Chinese. That is cowardice," Alt was quoted as saying by Bild am Sonntag.

He said it made no sense for German leaders to refuse a meeting when the Chinese themselves were holding such meetings.

In Germany, the Dalai Lama is to hold speeches in four cities, with human rights as the main theme.

He is due meet the president of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert in Bochum, and address the foreign affairs and human rights committees of the German parliament in Berlin.

On the final day of the visit, May 19, the Dalai Lama plans to deliver a speech at the German capital's landmark Brandenburg Gate, a spokesman for the German Tibet Initiative said.

A private meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Tibetan leader in September led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Beijing that ended only in January after intense German diplomatic efforts.

The chancellor will not be in Germany during the Dalai Lama's forthcoming visit.
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