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Politicians urged not to damage China-France relations
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China yesterday urged French politicians not to take any steps that could harm relations between the two countries, responding to reports that two French ministers will meet the Dalai Lama Friday.

"China's position on the Tibet issue is consistent and clear. We hope the French side will respect China's concerns and prudently deal with relevant important and sensitive issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press briefing.

"(We hope France can) make joint efforts with China to avoid any problems and ensure the stable and sound development of Sino-French relations," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who is on a 12-day visit to France, is expected to meet French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Human Rights Minister Rama Yade in the southern town of Lodeve where he will inaugurate a Buddhist temple.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made it clear on the eve of the Beijing Olympics that he would not hold talks with the Dalai Lama during his current visit to France.

Sarkozy further clarified his position while in Beijing, saying he respected and would continue the traditional friendly relationship between Paris and Beijing.

"Sino-French relations are back to normal," he told television channel France 2.

During his stay in Beijing to attend the Olympics, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said that Sarkozy's refusal to meet the Dalai Lama showed "he does not want France to take actions that China would be read as provocations, and does not want to do any disservice to the Chinese government", according to a report in the Chinese newspaper Global Times.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21,2008)

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