Gordon Brown faces rift with Prince Charles over 'snub' to Dalai Lama


Gordon Brown is on a collision course with Prince Charles over the sensitive issue of the Chinese government's human-rights record.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is planning to visit Britain in May and has requested an audience with the Prime Minister.

But Mr Brown, keen to boost trade links with China, has yet to reply to the request and risks being embarrassed during the trip by the Prince of Wales, a long-standing friend of the Tibetan.

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Charles's support for the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since an uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, is understood to be one of the reasons why he has made it known that he is boycotting this summer's Beijing Olympics.

He has met the Tibetan on several occasions, including his last visit to the UK in 2004, and is likely to do so again in May.

Tony Blair met the Dalai Lama in 1999 and President George Bush held a public meeting with him last year.

The Prime Minister, however, keen to do business with China, has accepted an invitation to attend the Olympics and campaigners fear he may snub the Dalai Lama.

When Mr Brown visited China last month, the issues of Beijing's human-rights record and its rule over Tibet were raised only fleetingly.

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