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Poll backs Sarkozy Dalai Lama meeting

July 17, 2008

The Connexion, UK
July 16, 2008

78% of French people think President Sarkozy should meet the Dalai Lama
when he visits Paris during the Olympic Games.

A representative of the Chinese government in Paris has warned of
‘serious consequences’ to relations between the two countries if such a
meeting took place.

Diplomat Kong Quan was summoned by foreign minister Bernard Kouchner to
explain the comments that a meeting “would run counter to the principle
of non-interference in internal affairs.”

My Quan added: "The Dalai Lama is not only a spiritual leader, but also
and above all someone who has separatist activities and who leads a
government in exile.”

The survey of 960 people was carried out by pollsters for the
magazine Paris Match and showed overwhelming support for a meeting
between the two men during the Dalai Lama’s visit between August 12-23.

Relations with China have been turbulent, reaching a low after violence
broke out during the parade of the Olympic flame through Paris.

A written apology by the president to a Chinese athlete injured in the
attack and a visit by former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to the
country helped to thaw relations.

Travel agencies in China were urged to boycott France as a tourist
destination leading to a 70% drop in visitors from the country.

Sarkozy has agreed to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics as a
representative of the European Union as France currently holds the
presidency.

Neither UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, nor German Chancellor Angela
Merkel will be attending, however the Elysée said other EU leaders had
approved Sarkozy’s decision.

Chancellor Merkel said: “It is very important for the European Union as
a whole to be represented in Beijing.”

The Paris City Council has bestowed honorary citizenship of the city on
the Dalai Lama.
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