By Nico Hines
The Prime Minister risked poisoning relations with the Chinese government today by announcing that he will meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the UK later in the year.
Gordon Brown had been reluctant to commit himself to a meeting with the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, who is blamed by the Chinese authorities for the current crisis in Lhasa. Beijing labelled him a “monster” this week.
Opposition parties have been pressurising Mr Brown to make a clear pledge that he will meet his holiness when he arrives in the UK in May.
"I will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in London," he told MPs today. Mr Brown also said he had urged Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to hold talks with the spiritual leader over the future of Tibet.
“I spoke to Premier Wen this morning and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet,” he said.
“The Premier told me that subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said - that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence - that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama.”
Unrest in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa began on March 10 with demonstrations on the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.
Beijing claims that 13 people were killed by rioters in Lhasa, while Tibetan exiles say 99 have died in clashes with authorities.
After demanding that the Prime Minister agree to meet the Dalai Lama yesterday, David Cameron responded to the announcement by saying: "Can I congratulate the prime minister on making the right decision... I congratulate him for doing the right thing."