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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Merkel angers China on Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Mrs Merkel had been advised against the meeting, reports say
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held historic talks with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Berlin despite protests from China.

China had criticised the meeting and, shortly beforehand, cancelled talks with the German justice minister.

Germany said the meeting with the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, was a private event.

But China, which governs Tibet, says the meeting was part of the Dalai Lama's agenda for Tibetan independence.

'Conscious' decision

German officials refused to give details of the "private exchange", which marked the first time the Dalai Lama had been received at the chancellery.

But they said China had cancelled a meeting with German counterparts in Munich on legal and patent issues.

Wherever I go, China protests. The Chinese are simply testing how far they can go
The Dalai Lama

China also summoned the German ambassador in Beijing to complain.

A German government spokesman, Thomas Steg, said he was confident that the meeting would "not disturb the good state of German-Chinese relations and co-operation".

In its weekend edition, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said that Mrs Merkel had pursued the meeting despite advice to the contrary from senior officials.

The Dalai Lama told the same newspaper: "What I appreciate about Mrs Merkel, is her steady engagement on human rights and religious freedom... Perhaps that is why she wants to see me, in spite of all the pressure from China."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said he was not seeking independence for Tibet but autonomy. He said Beijing was showing the "arrogance of power".

"Wherever I go, China protests. The Chinese are simply testing how far they can go."

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