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China's Wen urges France to clarify Tibet stance

world Updated: Mar 13, 2009 12:34 IST

AFP
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on France to clarify its stance on Tibet, saying this was needed for damaged relations between Beijing and Paris to improve.

"We hope the French side will make a very clear-cut stand on Tibet-related issues to help Chinese and French relations recover as quickly as possible," Wen told reporters.

"This not only serves the interests of both China and France, but also the interests of China and the European Union."

Relations between China and France nosedived after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in Poland in December last year.

China opposes any government figure meeting the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of being intent on achieving independence for Tibet after 58 years of Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama denies this, saying he wants meaningful autonomy.

"The problems that have emerged in China-France relations are mainly due to the high-profile meetings between French leaders and the Dalai Lama," Wen said.

Wen's comments about France needing to make a clear stand appear to refer to the French government's position of expressing support for the Dalai Lama while also describing China as a "strategic partner."

While many other government leaders have also met the Dalai Lama, China was particularly angered by Sarkozy's actions, partly because France had the rotating presidency of the European Union at the time.

Ahead of the meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, China voiced its displeasure by taking the unprecedented step of postponing a summit with the European Union in France that had been scheduled for December 1.