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Germany hails detente with China after Dalai Lama row

January 23, 2008

BERLIN, January 21, 2008 (AFP) - Germany today welcomed signs that
relations with China are returning to normal after a bitter diplomatic
row sparked by the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in

"We are delighted that after the turbulence of the past months we can
envision a return to normal working relations built upon trust," foreign
ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told reporters.

Jaeger confirmed that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would hold
talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin

China cancelled a host of bilateral meetings with Germany last year to
protest against Merkel’s meeting with the exiled Tibetan leader, who is
considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing.

Merkel, who expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s quest for cultural
autonomy for Tibet, has steadfastly maintained that she did the right
thing and that ties with China should be able to "withstand differences
of opinion".

The Chinese foreign ministry yesterday issued a statement signalling
that relations between the two major trade partners were indeed thawing.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to its friendly ties
with Germany and has always taken a strategic and long-term perspective
in studying and handling the problems in bilateral relations," it said.

And today, China’s minister for science and technology, Wang Gang, said
in an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper that Merkel is "welcome
in Beijing at any time, also for the Olympic Games."

China was interested in extending "dialogue with Germany on all levels",
he said.
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