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Dutch MPs set to defy China on Dalai Lama visit

April 17, 2009

Radio Netherland
April 16, 2009

Dutch MPs insist they are not going to withdraw
their invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit
parliament when he comes the Netherlands in June.
The statement comes in defiance of a letter from
the Chinese ambassador in The Hague, Mrs Xue
Hanqin, warning of the adverse consequences of such a visit.

In the letter, she objects to the Dalai Lama
being received by the speaker, Gerdi Verbeet, and
other MPs. She argues the official meeting would
not be conducive to good relations "in this time
of economic crisis". The government in Beijing
has already made it clear it disapproves of the
Tibetan spiritual leader's Dutch trip.

Henk Jan Ormel, chair of the parliamentary
foreign affairs committee, has officially
received the Chinese letter. He stresses that MPs
reserve the right to decide for themselves who visits parliament.

China annexed Tibet in 1950 and, nine years
later, the Dalai Lama fled to India. Since then,
he has been campaigning from exile for Tibet to be given greater autonomy.

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