French President Nicolas Sarkozy should meet with the Dalai Lama if the Tibetan spiritual leader visits France as planned this summer, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in an interview Wednesday.
"For the people he is a religious leader, a guide to the Tibetan people. I think one should meet with him ... but it is not me who decides," Kouchner told the daily Le Parisien.
A Tibetan spokesman said Tuesday that the Dalai Lama will visit France in August while Beijing is playing host to the Olympic Games from August 8 to 24, although no meetings with French government officials had yet been planned.
The visit was scheduled before the Chinese crackdown in Tibet which has left at least 140 dead, according to Tibetan exile groups, and stirred controversy over the choice of Beijing as host of the Olympic Games.
Human rights junior minister Rama Yade has said she is ready to meet with the Dalai Lama if he visits France.
Sarkozy said Tuesday a boycott of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was possible, but spoke out amid growing political calls for stronger action against the deadly crackdown on anti-Chinese protests in Tibet.
Kouchner said he believed "boycotting the Games wouldn't have any effect."
"As for the Olympic Games opening ceremony, we'll see depending how the situation develops," said the foreign minister.
"We'll discuss it on the 27th, Friday, during the EU foreign ministers meeting," said Kouchner. "It would be tremendous if we could agree on a common position."
Copyright 2008 AFP