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French foreign minister says Sarkozy has no plans to meet with the Dalai Lama

November 1, 2007

BEIJING, Oct 31 (AP): France's Nicolas Sarkozy, soon to make his first visit as president to China, has no plans to meet with Beijing's nemesis the Dalai Lama, the
French foreign minister said Wednesday.

"I know of no such desire," Bernard Kouchner said following talks with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, at a state guesthouse in Beijing.

Despite a relentless campaign of vilification by Beijing, the Tibetan spiritual leader has been received publicly by a growing number of world leaders, including U.S.
President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Beijing lashed out at the latest such meeting earlier this week with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Foreign Ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction"
and demanded that Canada "reflect on and correct the erroneous actions."

In volunteered comments at their joint news briefing, Yang repeated China's accusation that the Dalai Lama uses politics as a cover for political activities aimed at
splitting Tibet from Chinese rule.

"We are strongly opposed to foreign government leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama above the repeated objections of the Chinese government, which hurts the
feelings of the Chinese people," Yang said.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese troops in 1959. He lives in exile in India and campaigns for what he calls "true autonomy" for Tibet
under Chinese rule, not independence.

Yang called Sarkozy's November visit a "major event this year in China-France relations."

"We discussed the preparations and both sides believe the visit will produce major positive results through our common efforts," Yang said.

In August, Sarkozy used his first major foreign policy speech after becoming president to take a tougher line on Russia and China, in part to spell out his differences with
his predecessor Jacques Chirac, who was often accused of coddling authoritarian regimes.

Kouchner acknowledged tensions over China's massive trade deficit and claims by critics that China keeps its currency, the yuan, also known as the renminbi,
undervalued in order to give its exporters an unfair price advantage.

"The world is complex and competition is fierce. But France and the EU do not fear competition, we must merely face the fact and take appropriate measures,"
Kouchner said.

"We feel the renminbi is overvalued a bit at present. We hope China can make appropriate adjustments on the renminbi," he said.

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