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“Why did the Dalai Lama cancel?”

Published on 22/05/2007

22 May 2007

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament wants to know why the Dalai Lama cancelled his trip to Belgium. Speaker of the EP Hans-Gert Pöttering demanded an explanation of the spiritual leader’s change of plans from Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on Monday.

“I wrote the prime minister a letter asking for clarification on why the Dalai Lama will not be visiting Belgium (…) I am waiting for his reply,” Pöttering said at the opening of the plenary session in the Parliament in Strasbourg.

Two weeks ago the Belgian government reportedly asked the Dalai Lama to postpone his trip to Belgium. This came after a request from China, which still refuses to respect the religion of the Tibetan people and therefore opposes any visit by the Dalai Lama.

Prince Filip will soon go to China on a trade mission, and the country threatened that this would be a failure if the spiritual leader’s visit was not cancelled.

Pöttering said he would have liked to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Belgium. Pöttering stressed that the European Parliament has “the right” to receive leaders if it so wishes

The Belgian government insists that the Dalai Lama is “free to visit Belgium if he likes,” but a spokesperson for the Dalai Lama says that Belgium “urged him repeatedly to cancel his trip to Brussels.”

This is not the first time that the Dalai Lama has cancelled a visit to Belgium. In 2005 he called off a trip so as to avoid casting a shadow over King Albert II’s visit to China in the same year. The spiritual leader did visit Belgium in 2006.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news