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Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 13:35 UK

Dalai Lama made citizen of Paris

The Dalai Lama makes his anniversary address in Dharamsala (10 March)
China and France fell out over Mr Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been made an honorary citizen of the French capital, Paris.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe made the award in what French President Nicolas Sarkozy described as a municipal matter, not an act of state.

France has been trying to repair ties with China after recent tensions between the two countries.

China on Monday called the Paris honour to the Dalai Lama a "grave interference" in Sino-French ties.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting to split China, but he says he only wants autonomy for his people.

'Deliberate staging'

The Dalai Lama began his latest European tour in Denmark on Friday, and has also visited Iceland and the Netherlands.

He said on Sunday that the rioting that erupted in Tibet in March last year had been fomented by agents of the Chinese state in order to justify a subsequent crackdown and smear local activists as rioters.

THE TIBET DIVIDE
China says Tibet was always part of its territory
Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th century
In 1950, China launched a military assault
Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India
Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

"Despite a heavy security presence throughout Lhasa from 10 March onwards, it remains unclear why the Chinese forces of order remained inactive for so long in the centre of the city," the Dalai Lama said.

"On 14 March, Tibetans unknown to anyone in Lhasa started to burn shops and throw stones at the Chinese without police interference, while film crews already in place filmed the scene and broadcast it throughout the world.

"Only then did the security forces crack down on the disturbances. It is hard not to suspect a deliberate staging of riots," he said, speaking in Tibetan through a French translator.

Tibet 'errors'

Tension has been high between France and China, following chaotic scenes during last year's Olympic torch relay through Paris, and a December meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.

Last month China warned France not to make more "errors" on Tibet.

"The behaviour of the Paris government... has created grave interference in relations between China and France," China's foreign ministry said in its statement to the AFP on Monday.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamsala in India since 1959, when China took full control of Tibet.



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