Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sarkozy tells China to get real on Tibet

Score another one for French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The French leader met with the Dalai Lama in Poland on Saturday, despite warnings from China that such a meeting could impact relations between France and China. Not only that, Sarkozy directly implied what everybody has been thinking -- that Beijing is being overly sensitive about the West's continuing contacts with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. "There's no need to dramatize things," Sarkozy said after China canceled a major summit with the European Union this week in protest, according to the Cable News Network (CNN). Sarkozy currently holds the rotating chair of the EU. Leaders from France and China were in Gdansk this week for celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to former Polish President Lech Walesa. Sarkozy told reporters after the meeting that the 30-minute session had gone "very well," Reuters said."I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership," Sarkozy said. Reuters said Sarkozy told the Tibetan leader, who leads a government-in-exile in the Indian city of Dharamsala, that his concerns about Tibet are "shared in Europe." The Dalai Lama fled China after a failed revolt against Chinese rule in 1959. China denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist and meets with him only grudgingly, as it did earlier this year before the Beijing Olympics. He remains a revered figure in Tibet, Reuters said. China was outraged when French activists took the streets in April as the Olympic flame passed through Paris in April to protest Beijing's crackdown on pro-independence Tibetans earlier this year.

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