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Dalai Lama Returns

DW staff (sms)September 14, 2007

Just two months after having paid a visit to Hamburg, the Dalai Lama will come back to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for a "private conversation" later this month.

The Dalai Lama speaking at a press conference
The Dalai Lama's coming trip to Berlin will be his first to the chancelleryImage: AP

The visit, scheduled to take place on Sept. 23, will be the first time the Tibetan religious leader has been invited to the chancellery, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said on Friday, Sept. 14.

The meeting is one of a series between Merkel and senior religious leaders, he added.

Asked by reporters if China could be upset at the Dalai Lama being invited to the chancellery, Wilhelm said the situation in Tibet was regularly brought up during German-Chinese consultations on human rights.

During his term in office, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer courted Chinese disapproval by meeting with the Buddhist leader in Berlin.

Germany's chance to support Tibetans

Angela Merkel smiling
Merkel is meeting with various religious leadersImage: AP

The German branch of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said the spiritual leader's talks with Merkel offered Germany a chance to support the people of Tibet.

"The meeting is an important sign of support for Tibet and especially for the policies of the Dalai Lama," ICT Germany head Kai Müller said on Friday in Berlin.

"Tibetans need international support more than ever and Germany can take an important leadership role," he said.

Exiled leader

The Dalai Lama heads a Tibetan "government in exile" based in India. He fled Tibet after it was taken over by Chinese troops and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaigning on behalf of his country.

In his frequent visits to Europe, the Dalai Lama promotes the cause of Tibet. Recently, however, he has backed off from calling for Tibetan independence, encouraging instead the international community to push for "genuine autonomy" for the Himalayan region.

Beijing accuses him of promoting separatism and has regularly criticized his contacts with other world leaders.