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France

Dalai Lama receives honorary citizenship in Paris

Video by Marian HENBEST

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-07

The French capital has granted exiled Tibetan leader honorary citizenship, despite China's opposition. Relations between France and China were already frayed by pro-Tibet protests during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

AFP - Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was officially made an honorary citizen of Paris on Sunday, despite fierce opposition from Beijing.

"I receive this distinction as a human being to defend human values, peace and non-violence," the Dalai Lama said as he accepted the title.

The award has proved a diplomatic headache for France, which is still trying to patch up ties to China, strained in recent months by a December meeting between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Tibetan leader.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of being a leader of Tibetan separatists, and regards any official meeting with him as meddling in its internal affairs. It has warned European capitals of diplomatic retaliation.

The Dalai Lama has himself made no effort to avoid upsetting China, holding several meetings with Chinese dissidents, French lawmakers and reporters to denounce was he said was a "death sentence" imposed on Tibet.

Date created : 2009-06-07

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