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'Bush must cancel meet with Dalai'

world Updated: Oct 16, 2007 19:58 IST
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China on Tuesday urged US President George W Bush to cancel a meeting with the Dalai Lama, planned for later in the day at the White House, and accused the United States of "interfering in China's internal affairs."

"We strongly urge the United States to correct the mistakes, cancel the relevant arrangements, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs by any means," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

Liu said Bush's meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, one day before the Dalai Lama receives a congressional Gold Medal, "seriously violates the fundamental rules of international relations, hurts the Chinese people's feelings and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs."

He said the Dalai Lama was "purely an exiled politician who is involved in activities to split the motherland in the name of religion."

"China has expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposed the US action," Liu said, adding that Beijing had made "repeated representations" to Washington over the Dalai Lama's visit.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said last week that Bush told Chinese President Hu Jintao at an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last month that he would meet the 72-year-old Tibetan Buddhist leader in Washington.

Bush was also scheduled to attend a ceremony Wednesday to award the congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honour, to the Dalai Lama at the Capitol building in Washington.

He has received the Dalai Lama three times at the White House, most recently in November 2005.

Liu also rejected a US State Department report on Monday that China had pulled out of six-nation talks on Iran, scheduled to begin Wednesday in Berlin, in protest of the Dalai Lama's meeting with Bush and the award of the medal.

"It is because of technical questions that we will not attend the meeting, but China's stance on Iran has not changed," Liu said.

The US brokered the strategic talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against the occupation of Tibet by Chinese troops since 1951.

He remains as popular as ever among ordinary Tibetans. Most Tibetans support his calls for maximum autonomy and religious freedom for Tibet within China although many still favour independence.

But Beijing continues to accuse him of seeking independence and blames him for the lack of dialogue.