His Holiness on arrival in Paris, France. Monday, 11 August 2008. Photo Tenam
Paris, August 11 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was welcomed by a small contingent of Tibetans and French Buddhist early this morning at the airport in Paris, France. His Holiness is in France for a two-week visit.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision not meet with the Tibetan leader was criticised by the biggest opposition party, the Socialist at the Parliament. Sarkozy's office said that it was not the “right moment” to meet the Dalai Lama but stressed that they will meet before the end of this year.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, president of Party Socialist at the Assembly National said that this decision is “confused and without courage.”
Mr. Thupten Gyatso, President of the Tibetan Community in France said he was saddened by the decision and that thousands of French Tibet supporters will be “disappointed”.
His Holiness is scheduled to meet with Vietnamese Buddhists tomorrow and French members of Parliament the following day. His Holiness will also be meeting with Tibetans living in the Parisian area after which he will leave for Nantes for Buddhist teachings.
The French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama at the inauguration of a Buddhist temple in southern France on August 22.
His Holiness visited France for the first time in 1982. It is generally believed that France has the largest population of Buddhists in Europe.