Russia's foreign minister said on Wednesday that China was justified in refusing to deal with the Dalai Lama because of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's "provocative" politics.
"Beijing has well-founded reasons for saying it will not have contacts with the Dalai Lama as long as he makes provocative statements and engages in political activities," said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"The Dalai Lama has, perhaps unwillingly, become a symbol of Tibetan separatism for many foreign leaders," Lavrov told the Russian parliament.
"If this impression could be overcome, if he concentrated exclusively on religious activities, then I think there would be no obstacles to the normalisation of relations between him and Beijing."
The Dalai Lama, who is based in India, has visited Russia several times, most recently during a 2004 trip to the traditionally Buddhist region of Kalmykia located on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Since then, however, Russia has refused to grant him a visa out of concerns that it would offend China at a time when Moscow has been keen to build friendly relations with Beijing.
China calls the Dalai Lama a "wolf in monk's clothing" and accuses him of seeking to split the country, although the spiritual leader has repeatedly said he accepts Beijing's rule and is only seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet.