BERLIN Jan 29 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday she wanted Beijing
to hold talks with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Tibet is one of the most sensitive subjects for Western
leaders to broach with China, which views the Dalai Lama as a
It took months for China to forgive Merkel for meeting the
spiritual leader in 2007. Now Beijing is fuming over French
President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the exiled Buddhist
leader. Wen has left Paris out of his tour of European capitals
"We talked about the situation in Tibet and from the German
side, I emphasised that we have a common interest that talks
with the Dalai Lama get under way," said Merkel at a joint news
conference with Wen.
"If there is anything Germany can do in this regard, we
would like to help," she added.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting self-determination
for Tibet and has sought to stop him from meeting foreign
leaders. The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy, not outright
Envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese held talks in 2008
after a series of riots in Tibet that were the most serious
challenge to Chinese rule of the mountainous region for nearly
two decades. China blames the Dalai Lama for the unrest.
Beijing last year cancelled a China-EU summit after Sarkozy,
who then held the presidency of the European Union, met the
Merkel became the first German chancellor to receive the
monk and only after Beijing cancelled a number of high-level
meetings with German officials, did relations start to thaw.
Now, bilateral ties are back to normal and regular talks on
strategic foreign policy issues have been resumed.
Germany's ties with China have also caused friction in
Merkel's coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats (SPD).
Merkel has been more overtly critical of China on human
rights issues than her SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier, who will stand against her in September's federal
election. He has attacked Merkel for her reception of the Dalai
Lama, accusing her of "show window" diplomacy.