Dalai Lama to meet Harper this month: report
Nobel Peace Prize winner, author and spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has begun a North American tour that will end in Canada and could include a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper later this month.
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader started a series of public talks in Ithaca, N.Y., Tuesday. He will make his waythrough Georgia and Indiana before ending the tour with a lecture in Ottawa on Oct. 28, and another in Toronto on Oct. 31.
The prime minister is also scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama at a government site, according to a report in the Globe and Mail. The intended rendezvous has reportedly met opposition from China.
"We are against the provision of venues by foreign countries to the Dalai Lama's secessionist activities and also against foreign dignitaries meeting with him," a Chinese official said in a statement to the Globe.
China expressed similar frustrations after Germany announced Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to meet the Dalai Lama in Berlinin September.
St. John's Mayor Andy Wells, who has been invited to meet the Dalai Lama in Ottawa, said he will extend a warm welcome to the spiritual leader by raising the Tibetan flag when he arrives in Canada.
Wells pulled a similar move in 1999 just before China's premier visited Newfoundland. The Canadian government was forced to apologize on his behalf when the Chinese delegation threatened to cancel the trip. Wells, however,later received a letter of thanks from the Dalai Lama.
Former prime minister Paul Martin was the first Canadian leader to meet with the Dalai Lama. The two held a one-hour meeting at thehome of Ottawa's Roman Catholic archbishop in 2004.
The Dalai Lama, whoin 1989 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet, was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006.
The 72-year-oldhas been living in northern India since 1959 as the leader of Tibet's government-in-exile after Chinese troops took over the Himalayan region.
Chinese authorities call the Dalai Lama a separatist and have consistently refused tolethim return to Tibet.