PARIS, August 14 - France's human rights minister, Rama Yade, said Thursday she hopes to see the Dalai Lama while he visits France, although the exiled Tibetan spiritual guide dropped plans to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy.
‘I would be very happy to meet the Nobel peace prize laureate,’ the junior minister told French radio RTL, as the Buddhist leader headed to visit two temples in northwestern France on the third day of a visit that runs until August 23.
‘Contacts are under way between my cabinet and the office of the Dalai Lama's representative to find the best moment,’ said Yade, an outspoken critic of China's policies in Tibet following its crackdown on unrest there in March.
‘I don't doubt we will be able to find a date as soon as possible,’ she said, although she added the Buddhist leader had a ‘busy schedule’ for his 12 days in France.
The Dalai Lama's entourage said he did not seek a meeting with Sarkozy during the visit, which falls squarely during the Beijing Olympics, to avoid angering China.
But Sarkozy has been accused of calling off plans for a meeting in response to Chinese pressure, instead sending his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to see him inaugurate a temple in southern France next week.
A French minister said Wednesday Sarkozy would host the Tibetan spiritual leader at a ceremony for Nobel peace laureates in Paris on December 10.
The Tibetan spritual leader will spend most of the remaining 10 days teaching in the western city of Nantes, where he will meet former presidential candidate Segolene Royal on Saturday.
During private talks with French lawmakers on Wednesday, he was quoted as accusing China of pursuing a crackdown in Tibet in spite of the Olympic Games.
On Tuesday, the Dalai Lama gave his blessing to a new Buddhist temple south of Paris, the largest in a country that is home to an estimated 770,000 Buddhists, three quarters of them of Asian origin.