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China Protests Planned Meeting Between Germany's Merkel and the Dalai Lama


China has warned Germany against official contact with the Dalai Lama, calling the exiled Tibetan leader a "splittist" ahead of Sunday's meeting with the German chancellor.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu Tuesday raised Beijing's familiar objection that "the Dalai Lama is not simply a religious figure." Instead, she described him as "a long-time political exile engaged in separatist activities."

She re-stated China's disapproval of any official contact with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and urged Germany to consider the issue in the larger context of Sino-German relations.

Last week, China summoned Germany's ambassador in Beijing to discuss the upcoming meeting.

Sunday's meeting will be the Dalai Lama's first visit to the German chancellery and his first meeting with Ms. Merkel since she took office.

Ms. Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in 2005 when she was an opposition leader.

A spokesman for the German chancellor says Germany frequently raises Tibet among other human rights issues during meetings with Chinese leaders.

China regularly challenges any attempt by the Dalai Lama to meet with world leaders, accusing him of secretly promoting separatism.

But the Dalai Lama has been struggling since the late 1980's to negotiate an autonomous status for Tibet in association with China.

Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled to India in 1959, during a failed revolt against Chinese rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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