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Steinmeier admits to ''deep turmoil'' in German Chinese ties

December 19, 2007

Mathaba.Net, UK
December 17, 2007


Relations between German and China are in ''deep turmoil'' as a result
of last September's meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Tibetan
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter
Steinmeier acknowledged in an interview with Monday's edition of the
daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Welcoming the Dalai Lama at the chancellery gained a "high degree of
significance" in the news coverage, added Steinmeier who tried to
downplay deep differences with Merkel over her controversial action.

The chancellor and her foreign minister had been involved in major feud
over the China policy in recent weeks.

Merkel has strongly defended her decision to meet with the Dalai Lama.

"As chancellor, I decide whom I meet and where I meet them. I wish
everyone in the government would keep to this position because otherwise
China's respect for us will not increase," she was quoted saying.

Her remarks were clearly aimed at Steinmeier who has criticized Merkel
for trying to "showcase" the human rights issue as part of her wider
public relations strategy in the field of German foreign policy.

The Merkel-Steinmeier dispute comes at a time where both coalition
partners are getting ready for the 2009 election campaign with the
Social Democrats (SPD) trailing by a wide margin in all opinion polls
over the past weeks.

Although SPD chairman Kurt Beck is still a front-runner for the
chancellor's job, Merkel sees also in Steinmeier a likely serious
contender for the top post in Germany.

While Merkel has pressed ahead with the US rapprochement process and
tried to distance herself from China and Russia, Steinmeier who was the
former bureau chief of ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder -- had played an
instrumental role in fostering closer ties with Beijing and Moscow since
the late 1990s.

Beijing has called off a series high-level political meetings in recent
weeks, voicing its protest over the provocative talks between Merkel and
the Dalai Lama at the chancellery in late September.

Meanwhile, the German government is openly provoking China by planning
to meet again with the Dalai Lama, the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine
said earlier this month.

According to the report, the human rights coordinator of the German
government, Guenter Nooke is expected to meet the Dalai Lama in Berlin
on May 19.

It is still unclear whether Nooke will receive the Dalai Lama in his
office in the German Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has also requested to hold talks with
Steinmeier, however he has yet to receive an answer.

The German Foreign Ministry said it was still "reviewing" the request of
the Dalai Lama. --IRNA
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