Australian leader meets the Dalai Lama amid Chinese ‘concern’

June 13th, 2008 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, June 13 (IANS) Acting Prime Minister Chris Evans met the Dalai Lama Friday following a warning from Beijing Thursday night to heed its “grave concerns” that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader should not be allowed to engage in “separatist activities” while in Australia. According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), Beijing’s Thursday night statement has come as a surprise considering the Dalai Lama had earlier praised the Chinese leadership’s greater openness. However, China holds the Dalai Lama responsible for the unrest in Tibet and has accused him of trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics.

The Dalai Lama had yesterday said he was optimistic about future dialogue with China over the Tibet issue and had called for calm and respect for the Olympic torch when it travelled to Tibet’s capital Lhasa next week.

With Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard overseas, Immigration Minister Evans met the 72-year-old Nobel Laureate briefly at a hotel at the Olympic Park in suburban Homebush.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in the next two days and has already met Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and the Greens Party leader Bob Brown.

The Dalai Lama is in Australia, on what he calls a spiritual rather than political tour, to address a series of meditation lectures being attended by thousands of Australians.

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