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China, France Want Better Ties After Split Over Dalai Lama   བོད་སྐད།


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has told a visiting French delegation that his country wants friendly relations with France, but that Paris must address Beijing's major concerns.

Mr. Wen on Tuesday received former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin who is heading a group on a private visit to China. The group arrived on Sunday as part of an effort to heal the rift that formed after a December meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of campaigning for Tibet's independence. The exiled Buddhist monk says he only wants more autonomy for the region to protect its unique culture.

After meeting the Chinese premier, Mr. Raffarin told reporters that both sides want to get over the rift, but that a lot of work remains to be done.

Earlier Tuesday China warned Italy of possible damage to bilateral ties after the city of Rome granted honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno honored the Dalai Lama Monday for his commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the problems of Tibet and for reaffirming human rights principles worldwide.

Italy's Foreign Ministry said Italian cities are autonomous, but that the central government supports Beijing's one-China policy.

The Dalai Lama is visiting several European countries this week. In addition to Rome, he is scheduled to receive honors for his peaceful policies in Venice and in the German city of Baden-Baden.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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