German Foreign Minister refuses to meet Dalai Lama

11th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has attracted criticism for not meeting the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader's forthcoming visit

Berlin -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has refused to meet the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader's visit to Germany next week.

The decision has been criticised by a  number of Steinmeier's  colleagues in the ruling coalition  government.   Erwin Huber, chief of the centre right CSU party, said of the decision, "I would have expected more courage from Steinmeier"

Relations between China and Germany have been strained since Chancellor Angela Merkal chose to meet the Dalai Lama last year, a decision which was criticised by Steinmeier at the time

Steinmeier is keen not to further damage relations with  China. The country is one of Germany's major trading partners.

The Foreign Minister's allies in the Social Democrats (SPD) have defended the strategy, saying that Germany's policy is to encourage Chinese contact with the Tibetan delegation, not  to interfere by meeting the Dalai Lama themselves.

The Tibetan leader will be making a four day visit to Germany next week, culminating in a public speech in front of Berlin's Brandenburg gate.

Chancellor Merkel is scheduled to be in Latin America during the Dalai Lama's visit. 

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