Reuters: China pulled out of a meeting this week at which world powers were to discuss further action against Iran in protest against the U.S. Congress’ plan to honor the Dalai Lama, the State Department said on Monday. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China pulled out of a meeting this week at which world powers were to discuss further action against Iran in protest against the U.S. Congress’ plan to honor the Dalai Lama, the State Department said on Monday.
The meeting in Berlin on Wednesday on the showdown with Iran over its nuclear program has been postponed, probably until next week, said a State Department official, who spoke on condition he not be named.
The Berlin meeting had been scheduled on the same day as the U.S. Congress is set to honor the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader whom China shuns as a Tibetan separatist.
“They had indigestion over the presence of certain spiritual leaders (in the United States) and an event with Congress,” said the official, who spoke on condition he was not named. “It is extraneous to Iranian issues,” he added.
The U.S. Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony at the U.S. Capitol will be the first time U.S. President George W. Bush will have appeared in public with the Dalai Lama, who has visited the White House only for private meetings.
“For us, the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and that is how he is being treated here,” said the State Department official, adding that China informed Washington over the weekend of its decision to pull out of the Berlin meeting.
China also canceled an annual German-China human rights dialogue meeting scheduled for December in Germany to show its displeasure over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting last month with the Dalai Lama.
Political directors from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, Britain, France, Russia and the United States — as well as host Germany, are set at their next Iran meeting to discuss the language of a new U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran, say U.S. officials.
But China and Russia are both reluctant to impose a third round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran, which says its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity and not building a bomb.