French President Nicolas Sarkozy has met with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in the Polish city of Gdansk, in a move that has already angered China.
Mr. Sarkozy sought to play down the controversy ahead of Saturday's meeting, telling reporters that it must be approached calmly. The French leader, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, stressed that China and the EU have shared interests.
He said Europe needs China's participation in global affairs, while China needs European investment.
Mr. Sarkozy did not give a press conference after the meeting. The French News Agency quotes him as saying that the Dalai Lama had confirmed he is not seeking independence for Tibet.
Mr. Sarkozy is in Gdansk for an unrelated mini-summit of European leaders.
The Dalai Lama and other Nobel laureates had gathered in Gdansk on Friday to mark the 25th anniversary of the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Polish President and trade union leader Lech Walesa.
China has warned France that multi-billion-dollar trade ties could be affected by the meeting with the Dalai Lama. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman (Liu Jianchao) said trade between China and France can only prosper under good bilateral relations. He stressed that the meeting would negatively impact long-term ties between the two countries.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibet's separation from China. The Dalai Lama says he is simply seeking greater autonomy for Tibet, not independence.
information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.