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Germany

Germany Calls on China to Talk With Dalai Lama

The German government urged China and the Dalai Lama to reach a peaceful resolution the Tibet crisis. Berlin stressed it did not back a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in August, although not all politicians agree.

Tibetan activists carry the Tibet Independence Torch

Tibetan activists carry the Tibet Independence Torch in Dharmsala, India

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier phoned his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, on Tuesday, March 25, and called for an end of violence in Tibet, according to a German foreign ministry spokesman. Steinmeier told the Chinese foreign minister he hopes for "a permanent end of the violence and a pacification of the situation."

At a regular news conference in Berlin, deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg said Germany considers it "essential that both sides -- Tibet and the Dalai Lama on the one side and the government in Beijing on the other -- move toward each other."

Tibet protests in Thailand

Pro-Tibetan protests in Thailand

"The Tibetans want to protect their culture and China has an interest in stability and territorial integrity, and thus the German government sees no alternative to a direct dialogue between the two sides."

Steg said Berlin stood by its position that an Olympic boycott would be counterproductive but renewed its call for China to practice "transparency" in Tibet by allowing foreign observers into the Himalayan region.

Germany last week suspended talks with China on development financing for renewable energy projects over its concerns about "the perpetuation of violence in Tibet."

Dalai Lama visit

Asked about a plans by the Dalai Lama to visit Germany in May, Steg said Chancellor Angela Merkel would travelling and unable to fulfill his request to meet with her.

Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama

Chinese-German relations sank after Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in Berlin

But he added that Merkel was willing to hold talks with the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader at any time.

Relations between Germany and China plunged after Merkel met with the Dalai Lama at the Chancellery in Berlin in September. Bilateral ties have only recently improved.

The Dalai Lama, who has said he is open to dialogue with Beijing, reiterated a pledge Tuesday to resign as spokesman for the Tibetan people if there were more violent anti-Chinese protests.

He has denied Chinese charges of fomenting the unrest.

Olympic concerns

The violence has cast a shadow over the planning for the Olympic Games, to be held in the Chinese capital Aug. 8-24. Beijing hopes the Games will be a showpiece for the nation.

Demonstrators outside the International Olympic Committee headquarters, in Lausanne, Switzerland,

Demonstrators outside the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland

The German Olympic Committee on Monday ruled out keeping athletes home this summer but expressed dissatisfaction with the state of human rights in China.

But some leading German politicians, including Claudia Roth of the Green Party and Ruprecht Polenz of the Christian Democrats, said a boycott should remain an option for the time being.

On Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a boycott of the Games' opening ceremony was possible. Sarkozy said "all options are open" regarding a boycott and he appealed to Chinese leaders' "sense of responsibility" over the unrest.

The White House said US President George W. Bush still planned to attend the Aug. 8 Olympic extravaganza, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be at the closing ceremony on Aug. 24, his office said.

Tibetan exiles have put the death toll from two weeks of unrest at around 140. China says 18 civilians and two police officers have been killed since protests following the March 10 anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule.

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