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.
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
US gameshow gives woman in wheelchair incredibly awkward prize
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...