Brown due to meet Dalai Lama
Gordon Brown is now expected to meet the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan leader arrives in Britain in May, if the violence in Tibet has died down.
But the Prime Minister faced criticism of "dithering" over the visit by refusing to confirm that he will meet him, which would risk antagonising the Chinese government.
Chinese authorities have accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the crowds in Lhasa to violence, and exploiting the publicity surrounding the Beijing Olympics. But the Dalai Lama strongly denied the claims. He also sought to defuse the crisis by saying he was willing to step down as head of the Tibetan government in exile.
The visit has become a dilemma for Mr Brown, who visited China in January to foster good relations.
David Cameron, the Tory leader, and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, have made commitments to meet the Dalai Lama in London. Mr Cameron accused Mr Brown of dithering and may try to embarrass him again today at Prime Minister's Questions over his reluctance to upset the Chinese. Senior sources close to Mr Brown said he had not ruled out meeting the Dalai Lama, but they emphasised that a decision would be announced nearer the time. "The priority at the moment is to deal with the issues in Tibet," Mr Brown had earlier told MPs.
The extreme sensitivity of such a meeting was underlined when the Chinese ambassador to London, Fu Ying, met Mr Cameron and was told he would meet the Dalai Lama. "She threw a hissy fit," said a Conservative shadow minister. "It was made pretty clear to David that it would be regarded as highly unhelpful."
Downing Street is playing down the status of the Dalai Lama to spiritual leader rather than the political leader of Tibet in exile.
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
US blames Russia after rocket attacks in Ukraine kill at least 30
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...