Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have invited the Dalai Lama to the White House in 1994 and 2001. German chancellors have avoided upsetting the Chinese. Until now. Angela Merkel hosted a "private meeting" with the Dalai Lama in the chancellory on Sunday, September 23rd.
It was about time! Germany's federal president von Weizsäcker met with the Dalai Lama in 1990 and German foreign ministers Kinkel and Fischer agreed to meetings as well, but Merkel is Germany's first head of government to dare what US presidents have done in the past.
AFP reports that "Merkel signalled that she supported the Dalai Lama's quest for cultural autonomy for the Himalayan region, sticking to the course she steered during a visit to China in August in which she readily tackled human rights issues." Now China has cancelled two top-level meetings in retaliation.
China, however, seems to be doing some good work as well. Like many other papers, The Guardian writes:
There are reports that China is pressuring Burma to avoid a crackdown. "The Myanmar government is tolerating the protesters and not taking any action against the monks because of pressure from China," a diplomat told The Associated Press. China wants to be seen as a moderating influence ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics.
Related post in the Atlantic Review: Olympics 2008: Only Americans Remind China of its Responsibility for DarfurENDNOTE: Merkel is not the only one who is dares to meet a foreign leader despite negative repercussions. Barack Obama says he would be willing as president to meet with President Ahmadinejad of Iran as a way to protect U.S. interests, reports Breitbart. The NY Daily News considers Ahmadinejad as the personification of evil. See graphic to the right.
Well, Saddam is gone and there is not much interest in catching Bin Laden. They need someone else. Kim Jong-Il still runs North Korea like a Gulag, but who cares? He agreed to dismantle his nukes, so he is not all that evil anymore for the NY Daily News.