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French President will meet with Dalai Lama, reports French daily
Phayul[Friday, June 27, 2008 16:21]
By Tenam

Paris 27 June - According to a report in the French daily 'Le Point', the French President has made the decision to meet with His Holiness, but has not yet been officially announced. "Despite the insistent pressure of China, the President of the Republic will soon have a meeting with the Dalai Lama during the spiritual leader's visit to France in August" continued the report.

The meeting will not be at the Elysee presidential palace but in a Buddhist temple, and His Holiness will be received as a religious leader, wrote Le Point, so as to "not offend" the Chinese government.

France will take on the presidency of European Union in July, and there is already added pressure from various rights groups and organisations on Sarkozy to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in August. 

In a 10 April resolution, the European Parliament called on the European Union presidency "to strive to find a common EU position with regard to the attendance of the heads of government and of state and the EU high representative at the Olympic Games opening ceremony, with the option of non-attendance in the event that there is no resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

"The competitors at the Games rightly say it is up the politicians, not them, to sort out this tricky issue. The Council of Europe must not pass up this historic chance to create the necessary conditions to extract real progress from the Chinese government. The ruling Communist Party will not always be able to get away with answering legitimate demands to free political prisoners by drumming up nationalistic fervour," said the Paris-based press rights group Reporters without Borders.

The French president has been vague with regard to the Beijing Olympics, threatening to boycott the opening ceremony when Tibet was squarely on everyone's mind in the months of March and April. Since then, after boycott threats to French supermarket chain 'Carrefour', and the not-so-subtle advice by the Chinese foreign ministry to avoid France for Chinese tourist due to "security concerns", Sarkozy seems to be backtracking. Last week, 'L'Equipe' - a sports magazine reported that Nicolas Sarkozy will be in Beijing for the official opening ceremony of Olympic Games.

"I do not know if Nicolas Sarkozy will go (to the opening ceremony). But if the President does, I would also plead him to meet the Dalai Lama", Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights was quoted by the French daily Le Monde yesterday.

Tibetans collecting signatures urging the French President to meet with His Holiness when he visits France in August, Paris. Photo: Tenam
Tibetans collecting signatures urging the French President to meet with His Holiness when he visits France in August, Paris. Photo: Tenam
Tibetan Community of France and Tibetan supporters have been organising weekend vigil in Paris to get signatures asking the French president to meet with His Holiness. Last weekend, they were visited by Chinese students living in Paris, who accused the Tibetans of inciting violence in Tibet and not being informed about the reality in Tibet today.

"One Chinese student tried to intimidate us by taking closeup photos and telling us that he will remember my face forever. I replied 'Please do', said Lobsang Tsering, a Tibetan living in France. Lately, every event organized by Tibetans or Tibetan supporters have seen few Chinese with the same T-shirt saying, 'One China, One Family' tailing them.

"Our government in exile has always appealed to us to try and create a conducive environment. I wonder if Chinese embassies are giving the opposite instructions," added Lobsang.

His Holiness is scheduled to reach France at the end of the second week in August and will give teachings at Nantes from 16 to the 20 August.
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