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Nelson will meet Dalai Lama

June 7, 2008

World News Australia
June 6, 2008

Federal Opposition leader Brendan Nelson has confirmed he will meet
with the Dalai Lama when he visits Australia next week.

It is not yet known when or where the meeting will take place, but it
is the only confirmed political meeting of the Dalai Lama's visit.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has not yet announced whether or he intends
to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader.

When the Dalai last visited Australia, Chinese officials warned the
Prime Minister against meeting him, claiming he promotes Tibetan
independence from China.

Smith 'can't confirm'

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith can't say whether he or the prime
minister will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in Australia next week.

The Tibetan spiritual leader will be giving paid lectures to
Australian supporters in Sydney from Wednesday, June 11, to Sunday, June 15.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is overseas most of next week but arrives
back before the Dalai Lama finishes his Australian tour.

Mr Smith said it would be up to Mr Rudd to determine whether he would
meet the Dalai Lama on the basis of his diary.

"That'll be a matter of the prime minister to determine on the basis
of his diary arrangements," he told ABC TV.

"I'm not the keeper or his arrangements nor do I announce his appointments."

When the exiled Tibetan leader last visited Australia, Beijing warned
Canberra against meeting the Dalai Lama, whom they claim promotes
Tibetan independence from China.

Mr Smith said it would become very clear "in the near future" who the
Dalai Lama was meeting.

"Whether we see the Dalai or we don't, whether from a diary
arrangement point of view it works or it doesn't, our view so far as
the need for China to respect human rights in Tibet ... is well known
and we won't deviate," he said.

"That continues irrespective of whether the Dalai is in Australia for
a visit or not."

On the Beijing Olympics, which start in just over two months, Mr
Smith said there were still no decisions on whether he or Mr Rudd
would attend the opening ceremony.

"In the event whether we go will depend on a whole range of
considerations which go to diary and other matters," he said.

"If we don't go it won't be because we're in any way boycotting the
Olympic Games."

Source: SBS Radio
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