Xinhua: Sarkozy's meeting with Dalai Lama 'unwise'
AP - 2 hours 18 minutes ago
BEIJING - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama was an "unwise" move by France that has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and undermined bilateral ties, a state news agency said.
In a commentary late Saturday, Xinhua News Agency slammed Sarkozy's decision to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader _ despite China's objections _ as "opportunistic, rash and shortsighted."
China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries and denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist who seeks to end Chinese rule of the Himalayan region. Many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for most of that time.
Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama sat down Saturday for a long-awaited talk held behind closed doors in Gdansk, Poland, during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of former Polish President Lech Walesa's Nobel Peace Prize.
"The unwise move by France ... on the Tibet issue has not only undermined Sino-French ties, but has also obstructed the process of dialogue, exchange and cooperation between China and the EU," the Xinhua commentary said. France currently holds the rotating European Union presidency.
China demanded Sarkozy cancel the meeting and called off a major China-EU summit earlier this week in protest. Sarkozy sought to downplay the furor surrounding the meeting, saying, "There's no need to dramatize things."
He stressed his talk with the Dalai Lama posed no threat to Beijing. "I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership," Sarkozy said. "The Dalai Lama confirmed what I already knew, that he is not demanding independence."
France has many pro-Tibetan activists who protested en masse in the streets as the Olympic flame passed through Paris in April on its world tour, angry about China's harsh crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators in March. Some Chinese called for boycotts of French products afterward.
China has hardened its resistance toward the Dalai Lama and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner's calls for greater autonomy for his homeland.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharmsala, India, since fleeing Tibet amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. A self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile also is based in the northern Indian city.
The Dalai Lama remains deeply revered among Tibetans, despite Beijing's relentless attempts to vilify him.
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