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Dalai Lama visits Buddhist institute, pagoda
FRANCE DALAI LAMA P 5138355
In this photo released by the Bureau du Tibet, the Dalai Lama, center, greets people upon his arrival at the Charles de Gaulle airport, north east of Paris, Monday, Aug. 11, 2008. The Dalai Lama arrived in Paris on Monday for a 12-day visit to France, walking softly to avoid controversy over Tibet and devoting his stay to religion. - photo by Associated Press
    EVRY, France — The Dalai Lama skirted controversy over Tibet at the start of his 12-day trip to France on Tuesday, blessing a Buddhist institute and a temple, and offering a message of goodwill to China as the host of the Olympic Games.
    The Tibetan spiritual leader is spending most of the duration of the Beijing Olympics in France, with only one political event on his schedule for now — closed-door talks with French lawmakers on Wednesday.
    Though some of his supporters have protested Beijing’s hosting of the Games, the Dalai Lama has sought recently to ease tensions and sent a message last week offering prayers and good wishes to the Chinese people before the opening of the Olympic Games.
    He repeated that message Tuesday.
    ‘‘I fully support the Olympics in China ... the People’s Republic of China deserves to play host to the games,’’ he said as he left a Buddhist temple south of Paris.
    The first day of events following his arrival Monday was devoted to religious matters.
    At a Buddhist institute run by an exiled Tibetan in Veneux Les Sablons, outside Paris, the Dalai Lama offered prayers and greeted the town’s mayor and representatives of other religions.
    Later, he gave a talk on affection, peace and nonviolence at a vast Vietnamese pagoda still under construction in Evry, south of Paris, addressing followers in front of a gold statue of Buddha. He made no mention of Tibet.
    President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided not to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader while the Olympics are in progress. Sarkozy’s office says the Dalai Lama did not seek a visit with him during his stay.
    But Sarkozy’s critics and human rights groups have accused him of bending to Chinese pressure in order to try to secure major Chinese contracts for French companies — especially since Sarkozy decided to attend the Olympics opener in Beijing after threatening not to go.