His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his French interpreter Mathieu Ricard at a press conference in Paris, August 2008. Photo: Tenam
Paris 27 April: In a visit that is likely to raise the political temperature between Paris and Beijing, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be arriving in France for a two-day, 6-7 June, visit to the French capital.
It is expected that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will also be officially presented with the Citizen of Honour, a legislation that the Paris City had passed in April 2008.
After the mass protest against the Beijing torch relay in Paris, France has been the target of government and nationalist scorn in China. French supermarket chain Carefour came under increasing calls for boycott. President Sarkozy sent a delegation of high level French officials led by former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin to China. It has been widely reported that the Speaker of the French National Assembly was sent by President Sarkozy to China with an invitation for Chinese president Hu Jintao to visit France.
Before the G 20 meeting in London, a joint communique by the French foreign ministry and China on 1 April, declared that France does not "support any form of Tibet's independence," which is credited with the eventual meeting between Sarkozy and Hu Jintao in London.
The Tibet Group in the French Senate said in response that the Tibet issue cannot be considered an internal issue of China and that the Tibetan cause is very important and sensitive to the French people and their elected officials.