British premier to meet Dalai Lama in May

March 19th, 2008 - 11:03 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown

London, March 19 (IANS) Bowing to mounting domestic political pressure, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday he will meet Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, when he visits Britain in May. “I will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in London,” he told parliament.

“I spoke to (Chinese) Premier Wen (Jiabao) this morning and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet,” he said.

“The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said - that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence - that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama,” the British leader added.

Britain will become the third major Western nation to accord an official reception to the Dalai Lama in recent months after the US awarded him the Congressional Medal of honour and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met him last year.

The news was welcomed by Tibetan campaigners in Britain.

“That is great news that will be welcomed not only by Tibetans but also by everyone who loves and cherishes peace and freedom,” said Tsering Tashi, London representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Until Wednesday, Brown had evaded calls for him to meet the Dalai Lama, prompting the last British leader to meet the Tibetan spiritual head - former Tory foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind - to describe his reticence as “pathetic”.

Calling the Dalai Lama “the Nelson Mandela of Tibet” and a non-violent figure, Rifkind said his own meeting with him in 1998 did not damage Britain’s relations with China.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s third largest party, has also written to Brown asking him to meet the Dalai Lama when he comes on a visit May 21-22.

British Foreign Office Minister Lord Mark Malloch-Brown Sunday accused the Chinese government of showing “regrettable authoritarian tendencies” by its actions in Tibet.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |