Merkel welcomes China’s offer to talk with Tibet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed China’s offer of talks with a representative of the Dalai Lama, saying she hoped it would ensure a “peaceful” and “successful” Beijing Olympics, in an interview to be published Sunday.

Merkel welcomes China's offer to talk with Tibet
Photo: DPA

“That could be an important step in calming the situation,” she told the weekly Bild am Sonntag. “I welcome Beijing’s announcement and hope that as a result, a way will be found to ensure the successful and peaceful holding of the Olympic Games.”

Chinese state media said Friday that government officials would meet soon with a representative of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader at his request. The German government made a point of welcoming the announcement immediately as Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has had three telephone conversations with Beijing in recent weeks urging Chinese authorities to open talks.

The Dalai Lama is due to visit Germany from May 16 to 20, at a time when Merkel will be out of the country on official business. Merkel’s decision to receive the Dalai Lama last September provoked a diplomatic crisis with Beijing which lasted several months and was finally resolved only in January.