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French President Nicolas Sarkozy would meet Dalai Lama as religious leader, not head of state

July 13, 2008

The Associated Press
July 11, 2008

PARIS -- A top aide says if French President Nicolas Sarkozy meets
the Dalai Lama in August, it will be as a religious leader, not as
head of state.

In contrast, Sarkozy will receive the pope in September as head of
state. Henri Gaino says that would not be the case should Sarkozy
meet the Dalai Lama.

Gaino was responding Friday on LCI TV to displeasure voiced by China
over an eventual meeting.

Sarkozy pleased the Chinese by announcing he would attend the opening
Olympics ceremony after first suggesting he skip it. Ties between
China and France have been strained since protesters angry about
China's security crackdown in Tibet disrupted the Paris leg of the
Olympic torch relay.
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