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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."

New Zealand PM Declines Meeting with Dalai Lama

December 8, 2009

2009-12-7 10:48
NTD, Auckland, New Zealand.58

Over the weekend the Dalai Lama visited New Zealand. But the visit
sparked controversy as the country?s Prime Minister John Key declined an
invitation to meet with him.

New Zealand?s Green Party has criticized Key?s decision.

[Sue Kedgely, Green Party MP]:
?New Zealand has forged this very special free trade relationship with
China as a result of which we seem to be terrified of getting off side
with China in any way shape or form.?

John Key denies his decision is a result of pressure from the Chinese
regime. A spokesperson for New Zealand?s Prime Minister told NTD that:

?The Prime Minister? did not feel he would get much out of a meeting. He
has met the Dalai Lama before and listened to his issues. The Prime
Minister has not ruled out meeting the Dalai Lama again in the future.?

[Sue Kedgely, Green Party MP]:
?The Foreign Affairs spokesperson said to me that, ?I can?t meet with
the Dalai Lama because it would complicate our relationship with China
too much,? and that?s really what it boils down to.?

Last month, Prime Minister Key met with China?s vice premier at
Parliament in Wellington when he came to New Zealand to sign agreements.
He also met Chinese leader Hu Jintao at the recent APEC and ASEAN
meetings?where he told Hu that he would not be meeting the Dalai Lama.

Thuten Kesang, national chairman of Friends of Tibet in NZ, says Key?s
decision to not meet Dalai Lama was disappointing.

[Thuten Kesang, National Chairman of Friends of Tibet in NZ ]:
?There?s definitely no two twos about it. It?s political interference
from China?in New Zealand political affairs.?

The Communist Party calls the Dalai Lama a so-called ?splittist,? and it
frequently criticizes leaders of Western nations who meet with him.

[Thuten Kesang, National Chairman of Friends of Tibet in NZ ]:
?They (China) are supposedly the most powerful nation in the world. Yet
there?s only one man that they fear. It?s the Dalai Lama, a simple
Buddhist monk.?

China is New Zealand?s fourth largest trading partner, representing $1.6
billion of New Zealand's merchandise exports and over $1 billion of
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