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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Germany says Dalai Lamai visit will not harm ties with China

September 22, 2007

BERLIN (AFP) — Germany firmly believes that Chancellor Angela Merkel's
meeting with the Dalai Lama here on Sunday will not harm its ties with
China, a government spokesman said on Friday.

"We absolutely believe that this private exchange of ideas will not
disturb the good state of German-Chinese relations and cooperation,"
deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg told reporters.

"We believe that they will continue to develop in a positive manner in
future. It was clear during the chancellor's recent visit to China that
it is the interest of both our countries."

Steg signalled that the Dalai Lama's first ever visit to the German
chancellery would go ahead despite pressure from China this week for
Berlin to cancel his visit.

The German foreign ministry said China had summoned its ambassador in
Beijing over the issue.

"The meeting will take place, the invitation stands, and the chancellor
also extended the invitation very consciously," Steg said.

He reiterated Germany's stated policy of supporting Tibet's quest for
"religious and cultural autonomy" and stressed that the Dalai Lama is
not demanding full independence for the Himalayan region that was taken
over by Chinese troops in 1950.

Steg said Merkel believed that the issue of Tibet's future could only be
resolved in talks between Beijing and the exiled religious leader.

In an interview with Saturday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the
Dalai Lama described China's protests to his visit as "the arrogance of
power".

He praised Merkel's "strong commitment" to human rights in China,
adding: "Perhaps that is why she wants to see me, despite all the
pressure from Beijing."

China has bristled for years at the Dalai Lama's international
following. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent
approach to relations with China.

The 71-year-old Dalai Lama has led a Tibetan government-in-exile in
India since 1959.

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