Prime Minister meets with Dalai Lama

Prime Minister Paul Martin has become the first Canadian PM to meet with Dalai Lama.

Prime Minister Paul Martin held a one hour meeting with the Dalai Lama on Friday afternoon, the first Canadian prime minister to meet with the Tibetan religious leader.

Martin said the two men talked about human rights. "We did discuss human rights. We discussed human rights generally. We discussed human rights in Tibet," said Martin.

The Dalai Lama also discussed recent anti-Semitic attacks in Canada, in particular the firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal.

The meeting took place at the home of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa with other spiritual leaders in attendance.

Chinese officials remain opposed to the visit because they say the Dalai Lama is "a politician in exile engaged in activities aimed at splitting China."

That may have been true when a young Dalai Lama went into exile more than 40 years ago after China's punishing suppression of Tibet's independence uprising.

But now the Buddhist monk is looking for compromise. He says he is not seeking independence or separation from China. What he is seeking is limited Tibetan authority within China. "Tibet should be given autonomy, or self-rule, which the Chinese Constitution provided."

The Dalai Lama says autonomy would give Tibet control over culture, education, the environment and spirituality. China would retain responsibility for foreign affairs, defence and for much of the economic and technological development of Tibet.

Ottawa's official policy recognizes China's sovereignty over Tibet. But critics say Ottawa should embrace what they feel are the Dalai Lama's reasonable goals. "This silence in unacceptable," said Jean-Louis Roy, president of Rights and Democracy.