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Germany

Dalai Lama Begins Germany Tour

The Dalai Lama arrived in Germany on Thursday, May 15, at the start of a five-day visit that includes a meeting with a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet in Berlin.

Dalai Lama and Hesse Premier Roland Koch

The Dalai Lama had met with Roland Koch, right, last September and again Thursday

The Tibetan spiritual leader attended a breakfast hosted by Roland Koch, the conservative premier of the state of Hesse, shortly after his plane touched down in Frankfurt.

An enormously popular figure in Germany, the Dalai Lama will attend a conference and speak on human rights and religion in four cities before traveling to the German capital this coming Monday.

On Wednesday, China protested at the Dalai Lama's planned meetings with Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and legislators at the German parliament.

The "Dalai Lama is not a normal monk, but a political exile who carries out anti-Chinese and separatist activities abroad under the guise of religion, human rights and autonomy," a statement released by the Chinese embassy said.

The talks with Wieczorek-Zeul and members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee are due to take place on May 19 when the Dalai Lama will also deliver a speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

Few have time for Dalai Lama

The run-up to the visit was marked by a domestic row because no member of Merkel's government was prepared to meet him. The meeting with the development minister was arranged at the last minute.

Merkel is in Latin America and her deputy, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, turned down an official request for a meeting because he does not have time.

China has previously warned Germany not to offer the Dalai Lama "a platform for his separatist activities" related to his calls for greater autonomy for his native Tibet.

Merkel met the Dalai Lama at the federal chancellery last September, a move which led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Beijing that ended only in January after intense German diplomatic efforts.

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