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French First Lady and FM Attend Ceremony With Dalai Lama བོད་སྐད།


French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and France's Foreign Minister attended a Buddhist temple inauguration ceremony today along with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The ceremony at the Lerab Ling temple in southern France came at the end of the Dalai Lama's 12-day visit.

The Dalai Lama presented Bruni-Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner with long white scarves, a Tibetan symbol of hospitality and respect.

The Dalai Lama's visit to France has focused on Buddhism, but he also used the opportunity to voice concerns about Chinese policies in Tibet.

President Nicolas Sarkozy declined to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit. The French opposition Socialist Party has criticized the president for trying not to displease Beijing.

China warned Mr. Sarkozy that meeting with the Dalai Lama would have serious consequences for relations between China and France.

The Dalai Lama's visit to France was planned more than two years ago, but the trip turned political after a Chinese crackdown on unrest in Tibet in March sparked international outrage.

President Sarkozy angered China by threatening to boycott the opening of the Olympic Games after the crackdown, but he did attend the ceremony in Beijing on August 8th.

On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama said the international community should pressure China to join what he called the "mainstream of world democracy." But, he said China must not be isolated and said Beijing "deserves" to host the Olympics.

China says the Dalai Lama is seeking to make Tibet independent, but the Buddhist leader says he only wants autonomy and religious freedom for the region.

Government officials say Mr. Sarkozy will host the Dalai Lama at a ceremony for Nobel peace laureates in Paris on December 10th.

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