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Dalai Lama to make historic visit to German chancellery

September 14, 2007

Berlin 14 September 2007 (AFP) - The Dalai Lama has been granted an unprecedented private meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this month, her government confirmed on Friday.

The meeting on September 23 will be the first time the Dalai Lama has been received at the German chancellery, a spokesman said.

Asked if the visit would offend China, which Merkel visited in August, chief government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Beijing was aware of Berlin's position on Tibet.

"Human rights issues related to Tibet is an issue that we always bring up with the Chinese side, especially during the bilateral German-Chinese human rights dialogue but also in the EU-China human rights talks," chief government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said.

The Dalai Lama, whose worldly name is Tenzin Gyatso, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign against Chinese rule in Tibet.

He makes frequent visits to Europe to promote the cause of Tibet, but in recent years has backed off from pushing for Tibetan independence, campaigning instead for the Himalayan region to have "genuine autonomy".

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