Australian PM Says She Will Not Meet Dalai Lama

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ended weeks of speculation by announcing she will not meet the Dalai Lama during his current visit to the country.

Monday's decision is likely to please Australia's largest trading partner, China, which sees the Tibetan spiritual leader as a dangerous separatist. But Ms. Gillard has been under pressure to meet the Dalai Lama from Greens Party leader Bob Brown, whose support is key to her government's survival.

A spokesman for Ms. Gillard said a government lawmaker will meet privately with the Dalai Lama, who recently turned over his political duties to a new prime minister elected by Tibetans in exile around the world. The spokesman said the arrangement was appropriate since the Dalai Lama is a regular visitor to Australia.

The Dalai Lama has been in Australia since Thursday and is expected Tuesday in the capital, Canberra. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has said he will meet the Buddhist monk.