Dalai Lama for Paris honour

PARIS: The Dalai Lama may be made an honorary citizen of Paris next month, a spokesman for the Tibetan spiritual leader said Saturday, raising the prospect of further tension between China and France.

The Dalai Lama was due to visit France from June 6 to 8, said Wangpo Bashi, general secretary of his Paris office.

"It is very possible that he will receive the title of honorary citizen of the city of Paris from the mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, but no meeting with the leaders of the government is scheduled," he added.

Delanoe's decision in April 2008 to give the award to the Dalai Lama provoked a sharp response from China.

And when French President Nicolas Sarkozy met the exiled leader in Poland in December 2008, China suspended a summit with the European Union that would have been hosted by France, who held the rotating presidency at the time.

China opposes any government figure meeting the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of being intent on achieving independence for Tibet after 58 years of Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama however says he only wants autonomy for the Himalayan region.

Last month, China announced it would send a trade and investment team to France, after having left them out of a European tour in February which took in Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

The Dalai Lama's visit to France was part of a European tour that will also include Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, said Bashi.

Despite a letter of protest from the Chinese ambassador, the Dutch parliament has already announced that its deputies will receive him there.