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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 made citizen of Paris

June 9, 2009

BBC News 

Monday, 8 June 2009

 

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been made an honorary citizen of the French capital, Paris.

 

The mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, made the award in what French President Nicolas Sarkozy described as a municipal matter, not an act of state.

 

France has been trying to repair ties with China, but analysts said this award could further ruffle relations.

 

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting to split China, but he says he only wants autonomy for his people.

 

The Dalai Lama began his latest European tour in Denmark on Friday, and has also visited Iceland and the Netherlands.

 

'Deliberate staging'

 

He said on Sunday that the rioting that erupted in Tibet in March last year had been fomented by agents of the Chinese state in order to justify a subsequent crackdown and smear local activists as rioters.

 

"Despite a heavy security presence throughout Lhasa from March 10 onwards, it remains unclear why the Chinese forces of order remained inactive for so long in the centre of the city," the Dalai Lama said.

 

"On March 14, Tibetans unknown to anyone in Lhasa started to burn shops and throw stones at the Chinese without police interference, while film crews already in place filmed the scene and broadcast it throughout the world.

 

"Only then did the security forces crack down on the disturbances. It is hard not to suspect a deliberate staging of riots," he said, speaking in Tibetan through a French translator.

 

Tibet 'errors'

 

A strong reaction from China is expected to both the award and to the Dalai Lama's comments.

 

Tension has been high between France and China, following chaotic scenes during last year's Olympic torch relay through Paris, and a December meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.

 

Last month China warned France not to make more "errors" on Tibet.

 

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamsala in India since 1959 when China took full control of Tibet.

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