Photo: Reuters / French President Nicolas Sarkozy and

Tibet exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meet in Gdansk

Source: Reuters, http://www.timesofmalta.com/

Sarkozy defies China with Dalai Lama talks

French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied China yesterday by meeting

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama but said

there was no reason to "dramatise" the encounter.

China called off a summit with the EU last Monday in protest against Sarkozy's decision

to meet the Dalai Lama, branded by Beijing as a "splittist" for advocating

self-determination for his remote mountainous homeland.

"There is no need to dramatise things. I have always considered Tibet as part of China -

the Dalai Lama himself does not call for Tibet's independence,"

Sarkozy told reporters just before his talks with the Buddhist leader.

"We must see things calmly, serenely," he said, adding that the president of France had

the right to set his own agenda.

No news conference was planned after the meeting in the Baltic port of Gdansk where both men attended

celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Polish pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sarkozy stressed that China and Europe needed each other.

"The world needs an open China which participates in world governance.

China needs a powerful Europe which gives work to companies in China.

We have the duty to work together," he said.

French officials say Beijing's unusually vocal criticism of Sarkozy's plans to meet the Dalai Lama is

linked to the fact that Paris holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Many Chinese nationalists have urged a boycott of French products.

"The Chinese believe that we have the power to enforce discipline among the (27) countries of the European Union...

(But) we are not the teachers of the European classroom,"

a French official told reporters in Paris.

The official also said there had been no sign yet of any Chinese boycott of French products,

noting that the EU is China's biggest trade partner and that supermarket chain Carrefour employs

tens of thousands of people in China and is the biggest purchaser of Chinese goods in France.

French companies were subjected to Chinese boycotts and demonstrations earlier this year after

the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay was disrupted by anti-China protesters.

Earlier yesterday, the Dalai Lama called for dialogue and compassion

to solve the world's problems, but he steered clear of politics.

"Warfare failed to solve our problems in the last century, so this century should be a century of dialogue.

Every problem must be solved through talks, understanding of others' interests, others' rights," he said.

"War means dividing, compassion brings us together. As social animals, the key factor for our life is compassion,"

he told hundreds of delegates, including Walesa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso,

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other Nobel laureates. The Dalai, who met Tusk privately yesterday,

praised Polish courage in resisting past oppression.


Source: Reuters, http://www.timesofmalta.com/

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