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Dalai Lama's Russian Visa Raises China's Ire

27 November 2004 -- China today indirectly criticized Russia's decision to agree in principle to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said Beijing does not approve of countries allowing visits by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that a decision had been made to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama to visit Russia's southern Buddhist Kalmykia Republic.

It later appeared to backtrack and reissued its original statement to read "a decision has been made in principle to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama."

Li, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of East Asian foreign ministers in Laos, said Beijing is against "any country having official relations" with the Dalai Lama, whom he said was "a separatist."

China has ruled Tibet since 1951