Chinese protest at Dalai Lama meeting in Germany
China has protested
against a planned meeting between German legislators and the Dalai Lama at the
German parliament in Berlin, a leading parliamentarian was quoted as saying
The talks with members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee are due to take place on May 19, the final day of the Tibetan spiritual leader's five-day visit.
The Chinese embassy expressed reservations and asked the panel not to receive him at its rooms in the Reichstag, committee chairman Ruprecht Polenz told Thursday's edition of the Muensterschen Zeitung daily.
Polenz, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said the meeting would go ahead as planned.
The 72-year-old Dalai Lama arrives Thursday in Frankfurt, where he will be welcomed by Roland Koch, a personal friend and prime minister of the federal state of Hesse.
The run-up to the visit was marked by controversy because no member of Merkel's government was prepared to meet him. On Wednesday a government spokesman said Economic Assistance Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul would see the Dalai Lama in Berlin.
Merkel is in Latin America and her deputy, Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier, turned down an official request for a meeting because he does not have time.
President Horst Koehler has also ruled out a meeting because of scheduling difficulties, prompting accusations that he was kowtowing to the Chinese.
"The beating-about-the-bush by the government ahead of the visit is a disgrace," opposition Greens spokeswoman Renate Kunast said. "With the Olympic Games (in Beijing) approaching, it is important to discuss the issue of human rights in Tibet and China."
China has previously warned Germany not to offer the Dalai Lama "a platform for his separatist activities" related to his calls for greater autonomy for his native Tibet.
Merkel met the Dalai Lama at the federal chancellery last September, a move which led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Beijing that ended only in January after intense German diplomatic efforts.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, who enjoys huge popularity in Germany, will attend a conference and speak on human rights and religion in four cities before travelling to the German capital.
From Germany, the Dalai Lama travels to Britain where he will meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A government spokesman said the venue was chosen because Brown will welcome the Dalai Lama as a religious, rather than a political figure, dpa reported.