French human rights minister to meet Dalai Lama

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French human rights minister Rama Yade said Tuesday she will meet with the Dalai Lama later this week in southern France.

20 August 2008

PARIS - French human rights minister Rama Yade said Tuesday she will meet with the Dalai Lama later this week in southern France to show solidarity with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's struggle.

The meeting is to take place on Friday following the inauguration of a Buddhist temple near the town of Lodeve, Yade told AFP.

The Dalai Lama is expected to meet with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and first lady Carla Bruni on Friday, also in Lodeve, a diplomatic source said on Monday.

But President Nicolas Sarkozy has declined to hold talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader, who is on a 12-day visit to France that has stirred tensions with China.

Beijing, which accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet, had warned Sarkozy that meeting the Dalai Lama would have "serious consequences" for bilateral relations.

"I will express my respect for the spiritual leader that he is, my admiration for the man of peace that he is and my solidarity with the courageous struggle that he has been waging for so many years," Yade told AFP.

Kouchner at the weekend cancelled a meeting with the Dalai Lama originally scheduled for Wednesday due to the Georgian crisis.

The Budhhist leader accused China of pursuing a crackdown in Tibet while it was hosting the Olympic Games during a private meeting with members of the Senate on Wednesday, according to French lawmakers.

The Dalai Lama's visit to France ends on Tuesday.

[AFP / Expatica]

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