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China, Germany resume dialogue after Dalai Lama row

June 14, 2008

By Kerstin Gehmlich
June 13, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China and Germany said on Friday they would
resume regular talks on strategic foreign policy issues which were
interrupted by a row over the Dalai Lama's reception in Germany last year.

Relations between Beijing and Berlin became strained when Angela
Merkel became the first German chancellor to receive the Dalai Lama,
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader whom the Chinese government views as
a separatist.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the new dialogue
could focus on issues such as conflict prevention in Africa and climate change.

"We will resume the interrupted strategic dialogue in the second half
of the year," he told a joint news conference with his Chinese
counterpart, Yang Jiechi.
China has faced widespread Western criticism that it has not used its
influence in Sudan to press for an end to the violence in Darfur.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat (SPD), has taken a less overtly
critical stance towards countries like China or Russia over democracy
and rights issues than the conservative Merkel.

The foreign minister, whose SPD shares power in a grand coalition
with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), criticised Merkel's
reception of the Dalai Lama and spent months last year trying to
patch up ties with Beijing.

He also refused to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader himself when the
Dalai Lama was in Berlin last month.

This week's trip is Steinmeier's first visit to China since Beijing
said last year that Merkel's move had gravely damaged relations.
Germany and China, the world's two top exporters of goods, are key
trading partners. German exports to China rose 19 percent in the
first quarter yar-on-year, and imports from China to Germany almost
tripled between 2000 and 2007.

Steinmeier is to travel to China's earthquake-hit Sichuan province on
the weekend.
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