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Merkel, Dalai Lama Meet in Berlin Over China's Objection

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, have held private talks in Berlin over the objections of China.

Ms. Merkel's spokesman issued a statement Sunday saying the chancellor assured the Dalai Lama of her support for his efforts to preserve Tibet's cultural identity, and for his non-violent pursuit of religious and cultural autonomy.

The statement said the 72-year-old Dalai Lama emphasized the peaceful, non-violent nature of his work, which he said does not include Tibet's independence from China.

Today's landmark meeting between Chancellor Merkel and the Dalai Lama took place over the objections of China, which regularly accuses the Buddhist holy man of secretly promoting Tibetan independence.

Human rights organizations have long criticized China for its repression of religion and human rights abuses in Tibet.

Ms. Merkel and the Dalai Lama first met in 2005 when she was Germany's opposition political leader. But today's meeting was his first with a German head of government.

The Dalai Lama said Saturday in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung he does not believe his meeting with Ms. Merkel will have a lasting negative effect on Sino-German relations. He called China's attitude an "arrogance of power," and he accused Beijing of meddling in Germany's domestic affairs.

China on Saturday canceled Sunday's scheduled meeting with senior German justice ministry officials in Munich for what it called, "technical reasons."

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.