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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

New Zealand PM urged to meet Dalai Lama

November 22, 2009

November 21, 2009

Dharamsala, Nov. 21 -- The Dalai Lama Visit Trust
New Zealand has urged the country's Prime
Minister John Key to keep his pre-election
promise to meet the exiled Tibetan leader.

Mr Key said on Wednesday he would not meet the
Dalai Lama when he comes to Auckland early next
month because there "is no particular reason" to do so.

However, Thupten Kesang, chairman of the Dalai
Lama trust, said yesterday: "The reason is for him to keep his promise."

Despite saying New Zealand had not been asked by
the Chinese Government not to meet the Tibetan
leader, Mr Key said he told President Hu Jintao
at the Apec summit in Singapore last week that he
would not be meeting the Dalai Lama.

"They must have been discussing the visit when
they met in Singapore, and I am absolutely sure
Chinese pressure has everything to do with the
Prime Minister's decision," New Zealand Herald reported Mr Kesang as saying.

Parliament was told yesterday that Mr Key had
sought advice on foreign policy consequences of
meeting the Dalai Lama before deciding not to, according to the report.

Green MP Keith Locke said the refusal to meet the
Tibetan monk was an "unofficial boycott".

While announcing his decision not to meet the
Dalai Lama on Wednesday, Mr Key said he did not
believe it would be seen as kowtowing to the
Chinese, as President Barack Obama and Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd had also decided not to meet the Dalai Lama.

Mr Locke at the time said Mr Key's decision sent
the wrong signal to the Chinese government.

"It is just giving China a signal that we're not
serious about helping the Tibetan people in their
hour of need," Mr Locke told NZPA.

"It contrasts greatly with John Key's position in
opposition, when he did meet the Dalai Lama.

"Now he is in government and has some power and
ability to influence the situation, he's backing off," Locke said.

When the Dalai Lama was last in New Zealand in
2007, Key was leader of the opposition and
"dropped in" on a meeting between the Tibetan
leader and his National Party foreign affairs
spokesman, now minister, Murray McCully.

The Dalai Lama is due to visit New Zealand on
December 5 and 6, and meeting the Dalai Lama
usually draws vehement protests from China.
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