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German Foreign Minister Criticized For Not Meeting Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama's European representative criticized the decision by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday, May 8, not to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader when he visits Germany next week.

The Dalai Lama

The German foreign minsiter has given the Dalai Lama the cold shoulder

Tseten Chhoekyapa, the Dalai Lama's representative in Europe, said it was unfortunate that Steinmeier had turned down the chance of a meeting.

"We think he was badly advised," Chhoekyapa said in Berlin.

The Dalai Lama is arriving in Germany on May 16 and is expected to give a series of speeches, with human rights and humanitarian aid as the main themes.

He is scheduled to meet President of the German Parliament Norbert Lammert in Berlin on May 19, followed by talks with the state premiers of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

Opposition criticism

Further criticism came from Volker Beck, a senior Green party lawmaker, who described Steinmeier's decision as "completely inappropriate."

"Instead of kow-towing to China, he should show some backbone and receive the Dalai Lama in Berlin," Beck said, pointing out that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other high-ranking western politicians have held official meetings with the Tibetan leader in the past.

This time, the chancellor will miss his visit due to a trip to South America. But she has said she would be prepared to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader again. She did not specify a date for the meeting.

Berlin-Beijing chill

A meeting between Merkel and the Dalai Lama last September in the German Chancellery led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Beijing that ended only in January after intense German diplomatic efforts.

China's crackdown on Tibetan and other protestors ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August has provoked international protest.

Merkel welcomed Beijing's offer to meet representatives of the Dalai Lama, expressing the wish that this will lead to a successful Olympic Games.

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