German Leader Meets Dalai Lama Despite Objections From China

Sunday, September 23rd 2007, 10:17 pm
By: News On 6

BERLIN (AP) _ German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the Dalai Lama for a meeting on Sunday despite opposition from China.

After the nearly one-hour meeting, Merkel shook hands with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who was clad in red robes and smiling, but made no remarks.

The Dalai Lama, who had met Merkel when she was opposition leader, then walked to the chancellery gate, greeting a crowd of supporters and onlookers. He said, ``she kept old friendships, so (I'm) very happy.''

This meeting marked the 72-year-old Buddhist monk's first reception by a German head of government.

Merkel's spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said she ``paid tribute to the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and assured him of her support in his efforts to maintain the cultural identity of Tibet and in his policy of nonviolent striving toward religious and cultural autonomy.''

China expressed displeasure with Germany by summoning the country's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing earlier this month.

China routinely criticizes visits abroad by the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for India in 1959 during a failed uprising against Chinese rule.