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Dalai Lama hails fall of Berlin Wall

May 21, 2008

By Dave Graham
Reuters
May 19, 2008 2:51pm EDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama hailed the fall of the Berlin Wall
as a symbol of peaceful protest in an address to some 20,000
supporters which strove to reassure China he was not seeking
independence for Tibet.

Standing before the city's Brandenburg Gate that straddled the
East-West border, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader said he was
"extremely happy" about the turnout and stressed the importance of
pursuing non-violent solutions to problems.

"(This is) the very place the Berlin Wall disappeared, not by force,
but by a popular peace movement," he said on the final stop of his
five-day visit to Germany on Monday. "So I really feel (there is)
something very significant (in this)."

Germany reunified less than a year after the Berlin Wall fell in
November 1989, ending four decades of separation.

Much of the German media coverage surrounding the Dalai Lama's latest
visit has focused on the infighting in Germany's Social Democrats
(SPD) over whether to risk antagonizing China by receiving a man
Beijing views as a separatist.

"We are not seeking separation," the Dalai Lama told a crowd that
police estimated at around 20,000. "Tibet is a poor country,
materially very backward," he said, noting that the "average Tibetan"
wanted to live in a more modern society.

For this reason, he said it was important that Tibet remain part of
China so it could profit from its booming economy.

"We get maximum benefit, provided (there is) autonomy. That is the
safeguard of Tibet's unique cultural heritage."

Representatives of the Dalai Lama have been meeting Chinese officials
this month, but after talks earlier on Monday with the foreign policy
committee of the German lower house of parliament (Bundestag), the
72-year-old was reluctant to raise hopes.

"Now the problem is that we have some very nice things on paper," he
said according to the German transcript of his comments. "Actually
implementing them (is) very difficult."

Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservatives rule with the SPD,
raised hackles in China by meeting the Dalai Lama in Berlin last
year. She is currently on a visit to Latin America.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)
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