Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 18:15 UK

Brown holds talks with Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and Gordon Brown
The two leaders discussed "inter-faith issues"

Gordon Brown has discussed relations between China and the people of Tibet in talks with the Dalai Lama.

The 30-minute private meeting was "warm and constructive", a Downing Street spokesman said.

The prime minister and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader also discussed human rights and ways to help China in the aftermath of the 12 May earthquake.

Mr Brown did not receive the Dalai Lama at Downing Street, but instead at London's Lambeth Palace.

The prime minister had faced criticism for holding the talks at the Archbishop of Canterbury's residence instead of at Number 10.

The PM expressed his determination to work with both sides to encourage reconciliation
Gordon Brown's spokesman

But the Dalai Lama played down the controversy while talking to MPs on Thursday.

"For me - no differences. So long as meeting and talk - that is important. I always meet on the level we are human beings," he told the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr Brown's spokesman said the meeting between the two leaders had included a discussion of "inter-faith issues" and "the importance of the dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese authorities".

"The PM expressed his determination to work with both sides to encourage reconciliation," he said.

They also discussed the aftermath of the earthquake in Sichuan and the steps being taken by the UK to assist the people of western China, he added.

'Cultural genocide'

The Dalai Lama said on Thursday that Britain was not doing enough to help the Tibetan people in their human rights struggle.

He said his people were facing a form of "cultural genocide" at the hands of China.

But the exiled leader acknowledged there were "limitations" on what foreign governments could do.

He said he was going to raise China's refusal to ratify the UN charter on civil and political rights with Mr Brown.

China and Tibet have long disagreed over the status of Tibet, and China sent troops into the region to enforce a territorial claim in 1950.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile have been based in India since fleeing Tibet nine years later.

China says Tibet has officially been part of the Chinese nation since the mid-13th Century and so should continue to be ruled by Beijing.

Many Tibetans disagree, pointing out that the Himalayan region was an independent kingdom for many centuries, and that Chinese rule over Tibet has not been constant.

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