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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Merkel to meet Dalai Lama at German chancellery this month

September 14, 2007

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet the Dalai Lama at her office in Berlin later this month, her spokesman said Friday, describing the planned meeting as a private encounter with a religious leader.

Merkel will meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader for a "private exchange of thoughts" at the chancellery on Sept. 23, spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said.

He said the meeting was part of a "continuity of meetings between the chancellor and religious leaders," both in Germany and during trips abroad.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India in 1959 amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He remains highly popular among Tibetans, despite persistent efforts to undermine him by Chinese authorities.

China claims Tibet has been its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that period.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, has lived in Dharmsala, India, since fleeing Tibet.

German firms are eager to do business in China, the world's largest market with a booming economy. But Merkel, who took office in 2005, has brought up human rights publicly during both of her trips to China as chancellor. That provides a contrast with her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, who opponents accused of soft-pedaling the issue in the pursuit of economic ties.

"Questions of human rights regarding Tibet are an issue that we discuss again and again with the Chinese side — on one hand within the framework of the bilateral German-Chinese human rights dialogue, but also in EU-China human rights dialogues," Wilhelm said.

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