UK govt banned ministers to meet Dalai Lama
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The ban on meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader – imposed by the Prime Minister's team during crisis talks over Eurozone countries at a meeting of G20 countries – prompted a fierce backlash from the two ministers – Tim Loughton and
Loughton and Baker were barred at the last minute from attending a private lunch with the 77-year-old Dalai Lama at the apartment of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow minutes before it was due to start, the Telegraph reported.
They then wrote to Cameron to protest after the "deeply embarrassing" incident in June this year, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Channel Four Dispatches programme.
Loughton told the programme that he and Baker had originally been cleared to meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to the UK between June 14 and 23 this year.
The pair had been given the green light to attend the lunch on June 20 ¿ Baker is honorary president of the Tibet Society and Loughton is a member of the Tibet Society council.
But on the eve of the lunch, Loughton received many calls from officials travelling with Cameron in Cancun, Mexico at the G20 summit, he said.
The then-foreign minister Jeremy Browne also intervened, telling that they could not attend the meeting moments before it was due to begin.
The row took place as China was in talks about offering 27 billion pounds, into a fighting fund expected to be used up by the IMF to bail out Eurozone economies.
They wrote a private letter to Cameron in July which they strongly protested about the way they had been muzzled, and complained about the "tremendous pressure put upon each of us at the 11th hour not to attend".
They said they could not understand how the Government could impose a "blanket prohibition on a minister meeting a religious leader in private in a non-ministerial capacity and we think this crossed a line.
The two leaders said they felt British policy over China was "tantamount to saying that British foreign policy on Tibet is whatever China wants it to be."
"It completes ignores the fact his Holiness is a spiritual leader only and no longer holds a political position and is frankly just plain wrong."
Loughton was sacked as a minister in the September reshuffle while transport minister Baker is still in post.
Meanwhile, a British Government spokesman said: "The Chinese Government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama.
"We made clear in advance to the Chinese Government that British Ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them - irrespective of Chinese lobbying.
"It was never intended that any Minister would meet the Dalai Lama on his second visit. We are committed to striking a balance between taking a clear position on Tibet, and sustaining broad-based engagement with the Chinese Government.
"It is only through engaging China that we can help bring about positive change to human rights in China," the Telegraph said.