Dalai Lama talks not meant to offend China: France
French foreign minister said President Sarkozy was free to meet whomever he chooses and had not meant to offend the Chinese people or leaders.
PARIS – France's foreign minister insisted Tuesday that President Nicolas Sarkozy did not intend to offend China by meeting the Dalai Lama at the weekend, despite angry protests from Beijing.
"We did not want to cause offence to China, to the Chinese people or to Chinese leaders," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.
But Kouchner defended Sarkozy's decision to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, at a gathering of Nobel peace laureates in Poland, saying he was free to meet whomever he chooses.
"We regret China's attitude. I hope things will get better. They will have to get better," he added.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for his Chinese-controlled Himalayan homeland - despite his repeated denials - and views it as a national affront when foreign leaders meet with him.
Chinese state-run media said Sarkozy could expect the move to shrink the Chinese appetite for French products, in editorials that alluded to boycotts of French goods earlier this year in a previous flap over Tibet.
[AFP / Expatica]