Dalai Lama Arrives In Italy On Private Visit

December 5th 2007

Milan, Italy, 5 December 2007 (AFP) - The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrived in Milan on Wednesday for a private 11-day visit to Italy, airport sources said.

Beijing has complained to the Italian foreign ministry over the visit, which will take the Dalai Lama to Rome for four days from December 12, even though he will not meet with any members of the Italian government or with Pope Benedict XVI.

'Beijing's displeasure was communicated to us, informally, by the foreign ministry, but we view it as a routine reaction from the Chinese every time the Dalai Lama travels to a country,' a northern politician, Davide Gariglio, told Agence France-Presse last week.

The political high point of the Dalai Lama's stay will likely be his meeting with Italian lawmakers in Rome on a date that has yet to be set, according to the parliamentary press office.

The Tibetan Buddhist leader will not appear in the assembly hall but in a side room, according to House of Deputies speaker Fausto Bertinotti.

In northern Milan, the Dalai Lama will lead a three-day conference starting Friday to be attended by some 8,000 people, the ANSA news agency said, adding that he will meet Mayor Letizia Moratti.

After Rome, the Dalai Lama will return to the north where he will visit Turin on December 15 and 16.

His meeting in September with German Chancellor Angela Merkel sparked an angry reaction from Beijing, but Merkel stood her ground.

The Dalai Lama and the pope met in October 2006.

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