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China condemns Dalai Lama's planned Norway visit

Source: Reuters - Fri, 20 Dec 2013 02:15 PM
Author: Reuters
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(Adds comment by Norwegian foreign ministry)

BEIJING/OSLO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - China on Friday condemned plans by the Dalai Lama to visit Norway, a country with which it has had strained ties since the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

"China resolutely opposes any country receiving the Dalai Lama. China resolutely opposes any form of official meetings with the Dalai Lama by government officials of other countries," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

"We hope that the related parties will effectively respect China's core concerns, take practical efforts and make effective actions to improve relations," she added, in response to a question about the trip by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which awards the peace prize, told Reuters that the Dalai Lama would be coming in May at the invitation of local Buddhist groups. "We expect to contact him, but it's not our initiative," he said.

Norway's diplomatic relations with China have been frozen since 2010 when the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to Liu, a veteran of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing which the government brutally crushed.

China cancelled meetings with Norwegian officials and denied visas to visiting dignitaries, even though Norway's government says it has no influence over the Nobel Committee.

It was unclear whether Norwegian government officials would be meeting the Dalai Lama.

"The visit is of a private nature," foreign ministry spokesman Svein Atle Michelsen said. "We have not received any requests for meetings with the Dalai Lama, therefore we are not in a position to comment."

China calls the Dalai Lama a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, maintains he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

Tensions in China's Tibetan regions are at their highest in years after a spate of self-immolation protests by Tibetans, which have led to an intensified security crackdown. (Reporting by Joseph Campbell and Adam Rose in BEIJING and Nerijus Adomaitis in OSLO; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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