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Dalai Lama Urges World Community to Accept China into Its Ranks

The Dalai Lama has urged the world community to accept China into its ranks while staying firm on issues of human rights and democracy. The Tibetan spiritual leader spoke during a visit to France. Lisa Bryant reports for VOA from Paris.

Speaking at a news conference in Paris Wednesday, the Dalai Lama said China's eagerness to join the international community was welcome.

"Right from the beginning I have always believed and also expressed, the People's Republic of China, the most populated nation, very important, so [the international community] should not isolate China, must bring [it] into the mainstream of the world community," he said.

The Dalai Lama's remarks come near the start of a 12-day trip to France that will largely be devoted to visiting temples and meeting with his supporters. But the visit is fraught with controversy, as it coincides with the Olympics in Beijing. China has accused him of wanting to sabotage the Olympic games.

The Dalai Lama's remarks were carefully tempered Wednesday. He said China deserved to host the Olympics, but he also said "Beijing still hides" on the question of Tibet, which he called a sign of weakness. And he called on the world community to hold China to task on matters of democracy and human rights.

"And certain principles such as democracy, human rights, religious freedom, rule of law, in these principle matters you should be firm," said the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet but the Dalai Lama says he only wants autonomy and religious freedom for that region.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been criticized for not meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader during his visit here although his office says the two will meet later this year.

The Dalai Lama also met with French lawmakers Wednesday, in one of the few political events of his trip. France's foreign minister and human rights minister have both said they want to meet with him, but no meetings have been scheduled to date. First lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy will attend a ceremony next week where the Dalai Lama is to inaugurate a Buddhist temple.