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Dalai Lama Meets New Zealand FM, Visits Parliament


Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is in New Zealand, where he met Tuesday with Foreign Minister Winston Peters and visited the country's parliament.

But the 71-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who arrived Monday in the capital, Wellington, met with Peters in his capacity as New Zealand First party leader rather than as foreign minister.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has ruled out a formal meeting with the Dalai Lama, after meeting him last week at an airport in Australia.

Her decision sparked sharp criticism from the opposition, which accused the government of tiptoeing around Chinese opposition. Beijing regards the Buddhist leader as a separatist.

The Dalai Lama also met members of the opposition National Party and the Green Party. He fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese troops suppressed an uprising. He now lives in exile in India.

Last week, the Dalai Lama visited Australia, where he met with Prime Minister John Howard and opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

His visit has drawn criticism from Beijing, but Canberra said the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism is a significant religious figure who is welcome to visit Australia any time.

The Dalai Lama said his tour of Australia was meant to promote human values and religious harmony.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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