China says paying attention to Norwegian change of heart on Dalai Lama

BEIJING Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:50pm IST

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waves good bye after his speech and  at the National Cathedral in Washington March 7, 2014.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files

His Holiness the Dalai Lama waves good bye after his speech and at the National Cathedral in Washington March 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron/Files

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday that it was "paying attention" to a decision by Norway's prime minister and foreign minister not to meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, which was worthy of approval if Norway was addressing past errors.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Norway from May 7 to May 9 at the invitation of civil groups in Oslo, in part to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize.

While the prime minister and foreign minister have not accepted invitations to meet him, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to be in parliament and meet some members, including those on a "Tibet Committee".

"China is paying attention to Norway's making known of its position," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily news briefing.

"If you say that the Norwegian government previously viewed the Dalai Lama as a good friend, then I can tell you that this policy was wrong. We have noted the Norwegian government's recent new position."

Norway, he said, "ought to conscientiously deal with China's core concerns and take real steps to correct their mistakes to create beneficial conditions to improving and developing relations.

"If you say that they made a mistake in the past, and can now change it, that is worth encouragement and approval."

China has at least twice condemned the visit, saying it was opposed to any country giving a platform to the Dalai Lama's views.

China calls the Dalai Lama a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, maintains he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

Norway's diplomatic relations with China have been frozen since 2010, when the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing which the government crushed.

China cancelled meetings with Norwegian officials and denied visas to visiting dignitaries, even though Norway's government says it has no influence over the Nobel Committee.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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