Barroso hopes EU, China can heal rift


Europe hopes good relations with China can be restored, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said today, after Beijing withdrew from a high-level summit between the two powers.

Chinese leaders were meant to attend the China-EU summit in the French city of Lyon on Monday but Beijing said last week they would not go because of a plan by French president Nicolas Sarkozy to meet the Dalai Lama on December 6th in Poland.

Speaking to RTL radio, Mr Barroso said relations between China and Europe were of great importance but that European politicians had the right to meet whoever they wished.

"We know that China is extremely sensitive when it comes to Tibet and relations with the Dalai Lama. But frankly there was no reason for this decision," Mr Barroso said.

"We hope that there will be wisdom on the part of China and also on the part of Europe to overcome this problem," he said.

France has said Mr Sarkozy will meet the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, condemned by China as a separatist, at a ceremony in Poland to mark the 25th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Prize to former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in the mountainous region, occupied by Chinese troops from 1950.