Dalai Lama will not be welcomed by Dutch PM

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Members of parliament have accepted that the Tibetan spiritual leader will be received by the foreign minister and not Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

The Hague – Members of parliament are now resigned to the fact that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will not meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the Netherlands on 4 and 5 June.

Earlier, the parliament passed a motion calling on Balkenende to receive the Tibetan spiritual leader. The Labour Party, a member of the ruling coalition, also backed a meeting.

However, the cabinet decided the Dalai Lama will be welcomed to the Netherlands by Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen.

The government said the Prime Minister's presence would add nothing to the welcome and risk harming relations with China.

In answer to opposition questions, Balkenende said it was not just a question of economic interests and expressed concerned that a meeting could damage the "critical dialogue" he has with China on matters such as human rights.

Opposition MPs, led by the Green Left party, accused the cabinet of caving in to pressure from China, but would now let the matter rest.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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