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Dalai Lama in address to Euro MPs

Dalai Lama (2 December 2008)
The Dalai Lama insists his goal is meaningful autonomy for his homeland

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has addressed Europe's lawmakers, restating that he was seeking autonomy within China - not independence.

During his European tour, he will also meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

China has warned France that bilateral trade could be harmed if the planned meeting goes ahead on Saturday.

Beijing last week cancelled its summit with the EU which France - the current holder of the EU presidency - was to have hosted on 1 December.

Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, the Dalai Lama said he was "seeking a genuine autonomy within China".

The Tibetan exile leader said his movement was not "a separatist", stressing his commitments to "strictly non-violent methods" to achieve his goals.

Earlier, the 73-year-old Dalai Lama urged the EU to stand up to China on human rights.

"Our friends should take a firm stand," he told the BBC on Wednesday. "That I think for the long run is an immense help to the Chinese people."

"[The] Chinese people also want freedom of expression, free media and rule of law," he added. "If you adopt an attitude of appeasement, in the long run [it is] in no-one's interest."

He also said he planned to reach out to the Chinese by meeting their writers and intellectuals in the coming months.

Chinese warning

Beijing has reacted angrily to President Sarkozy's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland, warning that it could affect trade between France and China.

"We attach great importance to our strategic partnership with France, as well as our business relations with France. These two points are closely related," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Thursday.

"Only under the condition of good bilateral relations can we create a sound atmosphere for our business relations," he said.

The Chinese authorities call the Dalai Lama a wolf in monk's clothing and a devil with a human face, hell-bent on breaking Tibet away from China, the BBC's Oana Lungescu says.

The Tibetan exile leader insists his goal is meaningful autonomy for his homeland.

The Dalai Lama's European tour includes meetings with the Belgian and Czech prime ministers and with fellow Nobel Peace Prize-laureates like Poland's Lech Walesa.



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