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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Berlin unfazed by Beijing's sharp criticism of Dalai Lama visit

September 22, 2007

Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran
Berlin, Sept 21, 200

The German government here Friday played down China's strong criticism
over the Germany visit of Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Speaking at a weekly routine press briefing, German deputy government
spokesman Thomas Steg stressed that Chancellor Angela Merkel had "very
consciously made the invitation" to Dalai Lama.

"The exchange of thoughts (between Merkel and the Dalai Lama) will take
place," Steg added.

He voiced support for the Dalai Lama's demands for "cultural and
religious autonomy in Tibet".

Steg said he did not expect any negative impact on Chinese- German ties
as a result of the Dalai Lama's trip.

The Merkel spokesperson added that both Berlin and Beijing were still
"highly interested in expanding and intensifying cooperation" in all
spheres.

He reiterated that only dialogue could "resolve the Tibet question".

On Tuesday, China warned the German government not to allow the Dalai
Lama's visit and called on Berlin to consider the "general picture of
Chinese-German relations."


"We hope the German side will not allow the Dalai Lama to visit
Germany," DPA quoted Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Jiang
Yu as saying in Beijing.

Merkel will be the first German chancellor in the country's history to
meet the Dalai Lama in Berlin on Sunday.

The chancellor's "private talks" with the Dalai Lama are part of her
ongoing meetings with religious heads, Steg pointed out.

The Dalai Lama has been in exile in India ever since China occupied Tibet.

Beijing is accusing the Dalai Lama of supporting Tibetan separatism and
has repeatedly protested against high-profile foreign political meetings
of the Buddhist leader.

Former German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer met the Dalai Lama in
Berlin in late May 2003.

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