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Thursday, November 19

Government clearly boycotting Dalai Lama visit


The Government is clearly embarrassed about its ‘unofficial’ boycott of the Dalai Lama when he visits New Zealand next month, said Green Party MP Keith Locke today.

Answering questions in Parliament this afternoon from the Green Party, Foreign Minister Murray McCully denied it was Government policy that Ministers avoid meeting the Dalai Lama when he visits next month.

Last December it was reported that the Prime Minister John Key would meet the Dalai Lama when he visited New Zealand. However, Mr Key has recently stated he will not meet with the Dalai Lama

during the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's upcoming New Zealand visit.

"Mr Key needs to explain what has changed since December last year, and why he and his Ministers are now going to snub the Tibetan leader," said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

"The Prime Minister has dodged a meeting with the Dalai Lama saying he doesn’t need to now, but may do so in the future. This runs contrary to reports he would meet the Dalai Lama.

"Nothing has improved in Tibet to justify such a reversal. Just last month, two Tibetans, Losand Gyaltse and Loyar, were executed for their part in protest activity.

"Mr McCully told the House this afternoon that there was no official boycott of the Dalai Lama, however, he also pointed out that no Ministers would meet with the Dalai Lama.

"Our Government’s ‘unofficial’ boycott of the Dalai Lama sends a strong signal that our economic relationship with China trumps all other concerns.

"This will not be a popular among New Zealanders given our huge respect for the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"We value leaders who stand up for democracy rather than cave in to foreign pressure," said Mr Locke.

"How can we expect China to meet the Dalai Lama and negotiate a solution on Tibetan issues, if our Government’s example is a boycott of the Dalai Lama while he is in our country?"