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Dutch FM: Dalai Lama welcome in Netherlands

December 12, 2008

Radio Netherlands
10-12-2008
 
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen says the Dalai Lama is welcome in the Netherlands. The foreign minister's declaration comes in response to plans to bring the Tibetan spiritual leader to the Netherlands next year.
 
The Dalai Lama was due to take part in a Dutch human rights conference on Wednesday but the visit has been cancelled. In an interview broadcast by a Dutch current affairs television programme, Mr Verhagen said he would have met with the Dalai Lama if the visit had gone ahead as planned.
 
China's warning
 
China is opposed to any meetings between the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and Western leaders. Beijing responded furiously to a recent meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Tibetan leader in the Polish city of Gdansk. The Communist Party's newspaper The People's Daily said Mr Sarkozy was undermining the core intersts of China so as to win domestic support. The paper warned that this will ultimately damage the interests of France and Europe.
 
Mr Sarkozy said that as a French head of state it was his duty to meet all winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of whom is the Dalai Lama.
 
A threat
 
Beijing regards as the Dalai Lama as a threat to the integrity of the Chinese state as he is striving for more autonomy for Tibet. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied that he wants Tibet's full independence from China.
 
Tibet came under Chinese rule in 1951, three years after the Communist revolution.
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