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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."

Dalai Lama to meet with Brown in closely watched talks

May 24, 2008

AFP
May 22, 2008

LONDON (AFP) -- The Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown will hold closely watched talks Friday morning, as part of the Tibetan spiritual leader's five-nation tour.

Brown faces a delicate balancing act between supporting Tibetan rights and not offending China, and the premier will break with recent tradition to meet with the Dalai Lama at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the south bank of the River Thames opposite parliament.

Both of Brown's immediate predecessors, Tony Blair and John Major, met with the Dalai Lama in the prime minister's Downing Street offices. Brown's decision not to do so has drawn criticism.

Brown's aides have insisted he is holding talks with the 72-year-old Buddhist monk as a spiritual leader, and not as a political figure.

Speaking to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee on Thursday, the Dalai Lama played down the controversy over his meeting with Brown.

But asked if Britain was doing enough to support Tibet, he replied: "I think not enough."

The Dalai Lama is in Britain until May 30, with talks on human rights and peace and meetings with lawmakers a part of his schedule. The meeting with Brown however, is likely to be the most closely watched.

On Thursday, demonstrators targeted the Dalai Lama as supporters and critics rallied outside the Royal Albert Hall, where he made his first public address since arriving in London.

Among the protestors were pro-China demonstrators -- and members of the Western Shugden Society, a Buddhist group who were protesting the 1996 decision by the Dalai Lama to outlawy their worship of a particular deity.

In all there were more than 1,000 protestors, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

In his speech, the Dalai Lama welcomed encouraging signs of openness from China in its handling of this month's earthquake disaster, but said Beijing lacked the moral authority of a true superpower.

He warned that China's "ruthless suppression" in Tibet would only fan calls for independence, which he does not back.

The spiritual leader later met Britain's heir to the throne Prince Charles for talks about "spiritual matters" at his Clarence House residence. The Dalai Lama planted a tree there and prayed before the talks began.
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