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China cautions France to be careful on Tibet

August 14, 2008

From Agence France-Presse

China on Thursday called on France to carefully handle the “sensitive” issue of Tibet, a day after a French minister announced President Nicolas Sarkozy would host the Dalai Lama in December.

“China’s position on the Tibetan issue is consistent and clear,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We hope France will pay attention to China’s concerns (and) carefully handle the related important and sensitive issue,” it said.

“(France should) make efforts with China to avoid any disturbances that could arise and ensure the healthy and stable development of Sino-French relations.”

The comments came as the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader who is seen as a dangerous separatist in China, continued a long-planned visit to France.

He was due to stay 12 days in the country, but was not scheduled to meet with Sarkozy, who will instead send his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to see the Tibetan monk inaugurate a Buddhist temple in southern France next week.

But a minister announced Wednesday that the French president would host the Dalai Lama at a ceremony for Nobel peace laureates in Paris on December 10, although he did not say whether the two would hold separate talks.

France is struggling to mend ties with China after Sarkozy angered Beijing by threatening to boycott the opening of the Beijing Games following a Chinese crackdown on violence in Tibet and surrounding regions beginning in March.

The violence erupted in Tibet’s capital Lhasa after four days of peaceful protests against nearly six decades of Chinese rule.

French lawmakers who met with the Dalai Lama in Paris on Wednesday said the exiled Tibetan leader had accused China of pursuing its crackdown in his homeland despite the start of the Olympic Games.

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