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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

German Minister Defends Meeting with Dalai Lama

May 21, 2008

Tibetan Leader In Berlin
Spiegel (Germany)
May 19, 2008

Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul came under
fire from members of her Social Democrat Party on Monday for meeting
the Dalai Lama. She said she wanted to seize the opportunity to hear
his view of the situation in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama rounded off his five-day trip to Germany on Monday by
meeting with Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul before
addressing a pro-Tibet demonstration at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate.

The meeting with the minister in a Berlin hotel has caused a
political row in Germany, with Wieczorek-Zeul being criticized from
within her Social Democrat Party (SPD) for meeting with the exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader. However she has also been praised by many
who had been appalled that the German government had seemed to want
to placate the Chinese leadership by avoiding a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

His trip has exposed sharp divisions within Germany's coalition
government. Last year's meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and
the Tibetan leader had upset relations between Berlin and Beijing.
The current visit coincided with Merkel's visit to Latin America but
her deputy, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD, refused an offer to
meet him. As foreign minister, it has been up to Steinmeier to smooth
relations between the two countries through intense negotiations in
recent months.

Wieczorek-Zeul had been harshly criticized by fellow members of the
SPD, who argued that she was unnecessarily provoking the Chinese.
According to an article in the Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag, SPD
leader Kurt Beck was furious with her for agreeing to the audience
with the Dalai Lama, but the minister was unapologetic about her
decision. After Monday's meeting she said: "I took advantage of the
opportunity to let the Dalai Lama inform me about the situation in
Tibet, based on his point of view."

Speaking to reporters, she said that they had discussed the necessity
for cultural autonomy in this context, "as well as the dialogue
between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai
Lama." They also touched on human rights, the fight against poverty
and globalization.

After the meeting she dismissed suggestions that she had met him as a
private person, insisting she was there as a "representative of the
government." She said she had discussed the matter with party boss
Kurt Beck but would not comment on it in public.

Merkel's spokesman Thomas Steg said that the chancellor had not
opposed the meeting, though she also had not been involved in setting
it up. "She is completely agreeable to the meeting," he said.

On Monday afternoon up to 20,000 people gathered at the Brandenburg
Gate to see the Tibetan leader speak. A number of bands are also due
to play at the event. The Dalai Lama has been drawing big crowds
during his trip to Germany, with 7,000 thronging to see him on Sunday
in Nuremberg where he said: "We need all the different religions to
serve the people, because the people are different and have different goals."

On Monday in Berlin the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize Laureate once
again rejected Chinese accusations that he and his government in
exile wanted independence for Tibet. "We don't want separation," he
told the cheering crowd. The goal was true relgious and cultural
autonomy within China.
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