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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

One is a spiritual leader and the other is an exiled Tibetan Buddhist

December 7, 2009


December 4, 2009

Dalai Lama meets Tony Abbott

The Dalai Lama meets new Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT has irked the Chinese by meeting the Dalai Lama in his first
foreign policy act as Opposition Leader.

''I understand the diplomatic sensitivities in these areas, and there
are things which opposition leaders can do which prime ministers find
more difficult,'' Mr Abbott said.

He also recalled John Howard had met the Dalai Lama, and said he
understood why people were disappointed Kevin Rudd would not do the same.

As the Abbott said to the monk... the Opposition Leader with the Dalai
Lama yesterday. Photo: Steven Siewert

The Prime Minister has met the exiled Tibetan leader several times
before but has declined to do so on this visit.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy was unimpressed with Mr Abbott's
decision to meet the Dalai Lama in Sydney yesterday: ''We are firmly
opposed to Dalai's visit for engaging in separatist activities. This
position is consistent and clear.''

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said the Opposition Leader was ''a spiritual
person''' and had long admired the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama expressed his happiness with meeting Mr Abbott, saying
that different views and political parties were necessary to democracy,
something he said was important to global humanity.

''I hope, your holiness, that all who meet with me will be equally
happy,'' Mr Abbott said.

The Dalai Lama held Mr Abbott's hand many times during the meeting,
stroking his chest as he gave him a white shawl symbolising motivation
and gentle behaviour.

It is the lama's third visit to Australia in three years. A Government
source said the Chinese grew tetchy each time the lama visited.

The Dalai Lama dodged a question on the Liberal scepticism regarding
climate change, saying that he respected the democracy of different
opinions. ''I welcome,'' he said, slapping Mr Abbott playfully on the hand.

It is understood that Malcolm Turnbull, deposed by Mr Abbott on Tuesday,
had been planning to meet the Dalai Lama. The Greens leader, Bob Brown,
said Mr Rudd should have a meeting.

Mr Rudd's office has rejected the assertion that the Prime Minister's
decision not to meet the Dalai Lama this visit was motivated by a fear
of upsetting China. Senior Government representatives will meet the lama
this visit.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing has been fractious over the past
year but is on the mend to the extent free trade agreement talks between
the two nations will resume in February.
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