THE HAGUE - The Dalai Lama on Friday made light of sharp criticism against the Dutch prime minister for declining to meet him during a three-day visit to the Netherlands, telling politicians it was of no concern to him.
I come with spiritual education, not a political agenda and I do not want to create any inconvenience. So no problem, the Dalai Lama told political leaders at the Dutch Parliament.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has defended his decision not to meet the Dalai Lama by insisting he is a spiritual and not a political leader and that meeting him would pose an irresponsible risk for relations with China.
The most important reason for not wanting the meeting is that Balkenende wants to have good relations with China to be able to talk about all subjects, including human rights and the situation in Tibet, a Balkenende spokesman said.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller angered China when they met the Dalai Lama last month, while relations soured between France and China when President Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in December.
The issue prompted Dutch European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans to recently call for a unanimous European Union policy toward the Dalai Lama, Dutch media has reported.
Hoping to avoid Chinese anger, the Dutch eventually decided to have the Dalai Lama meet Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and religious leaders at a Catholic church in The Hague.
The Dalai Lama later met with representatives of Dutch political parties and asked the international community to push China to end fear and suppression in Tibet.
My faith in the Chinese government is becoming thinner and thinner and thinner, but to the Chinese people: we have never been shaken in our faith, he said.