Brown not to host Dalai Lama at Downing Street

May 12th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown

London, May 12 (IANS) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will receive the Dalai Lama at the office of England’s top church leader rather than at Downing Street, a spokesperson said Monday. Brown will meet the Tibetan spiritual leader in Lambeth Palace, home of the archbishop of Canterbury - head of the Church of England - in a move that commentators said will enable him to claim he is receiving the Dalai Lama in a spiritual rather than political capacity.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “As he said in parliament, the prime minister intends to see the Dalai Lama. What is important is that they are meeting and will have a substantive conversation. It is also significant that the Chinese are engaging directly with representatives of the Dalai Lama.”

The May 23 reception, part of the Dalai Lama’s 11-day tour of Britain, is to be attended by a number of other spiritual leaders.

The Dalai Lama has been received at Downing Street by the two previous British premiers Tony Blair and John Major. He has also been officially hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush.

Brown’s decision was criticised by opposition leaders.

“The prime minister should be prepared to meet all leaders in Downing Street,” William Hague of the Conservative Party told The Times.

“There is no reason why he should not see the Dalai Lama at No 10, and the suspicion must be that he is responding to the Chinese government,” said Sir Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats.

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