Steinmeier slammed for nixing visit with Dalai Lama

A spokesman of the Dalai Lama in Europe criticized German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday for turning down a meeting with the Tibetan religious leader this month.

Steinmeier slammed for nixing visit with Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama visited Germany in September. Photo: DPA

Spokesman Tseten Chhoekyapa called Steinmeier’s decision “extremely unfortunate” and told German press agency DPA, “We think he has been poorly advised.”

Steinmeier is said to have turned down the request for an interview because of time constraints, DPA reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose meeting in September with the Dalai Lama caused a rift in Germany’s relationship with China, will be away in South America during this month’s visit.

A spokesman of the German Foreign Office confirmed to DPA that no meeting between Steinmeier and the Dalai Lama is planned.

Citing unnamed government sources, the newswire reported that the foreign minister spoke on the telephone several times with his Chinese counterparts during the Tibetan unrest in March. Steinmeier was said to have pushed for dialogue between Peking and Tibetan leadership.

Chinese authorities met with representatives of the Dalai Lama on May 4.

Steinmeier criticized Merkel for meeting in the chancellory with the Dalai Lama last autumn.

The 72-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader is expected to arrive in Germany on May 16 and to visit the German cities of Bochum, Mönchengladbach, Nueremberg and Bamberg before travelling to Berlin. In Bochum he will meet Norbert Lammert, a Christian Democrat and president of the German parliament.

The Dalai Lama is expected to speak at the Brandenburg gate on May 19th at the conclusion of his four-day visit. Also planned are speeches before the international and human rights committees of the Bundestag.