By Tenzin Sangmo
The Dalai Lama who is on a 12-day visit in France, salutes people gathered outside the Ganden Ling institute in Veneux Les Sablons, South of Paris, Tuesday Aug. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/ REMY DE LA MAUVINIERE)
New Delhi, August 13 - The Dalai Lama devoted his first day after arriving on Monday to religious and spiritual affairs. He offered prayers at Ganden Ling institute in Veneux Les Sablons outside Paris and greeted the town's mayor as well as religious representatives of different faiths. The rest of his stay will be committed to religious visits to northwestern Normandy and Brittany; also a six day teaching conference in Nantes, Western France.
His Holiness is scheduled to meet in strict privacy with some thirty to forty French lawmakers at the French Senate today.
While Tibet remains a sensitive issue the French Government is keen not to anger China. President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision not to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader earned him much criticism from human rights bodies of bending backwards to appease China especially after his threat of not attending the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Games did not hold true.
Contradicting opinions arose in Sarkozy's own UMP Party when Lionel Luca, a lawmaker slammed the government of 'self-censorship' for its decision to exclude the press from today's Senate meeting.
"Our country must surely be occupied by Chinese troops because we are so afraid of displeasing (China)," he told France Inter Radio.
"The senate speaker (Christian Poncelot) is trying yet again to please the Chinese government by refusing to let the press cover a meeting between the Dalai Lama and members of the French parliament," Reporters Without Borders said.
The Dalai Lama on Tuesday reaffirmed his support for the Olympics after visiting a Vietnamese pagoda under construction in Evry, Southern France.
"I fully support the Olympics in China...The People's Republic of China deserves to play host to the Games," he said in response to a reporter's question.
"Whenever we face conflict, we have to use dialogue," he further added at the talk on peace and nonviolence but steered clear of broaching Tibet's status.
He is scheduled to inaugurate a Buddhist temple in the South of France accompanied by Carla Bruni Sarkozy, the French First Lady before the end of his trip on August 23.