Zhang Keyuan, who has served as the Chinese Ambassador to Iceland for two years, has been called home. No explanation has been given. Yesterday, the ambassador formally relayed the Chinese authorities’ discontent over Icelandic officials meeting with the Dalai Lama.
The Great Wall of China. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Yesterday morning Zhang met with Grétar Már Sigurdsson, Iceland’s Permanent Secretary of State, to deliver the message of China’s stand on the Dalai Lama’s visit, Fréttabladid reports.
The ministry’s information officer Urdur Gunnarsdóttir told mbl.is that the ambassador had not announced that any further action would be taken as a result of this matter.
The Dalai Lama, who is currently on a private visit to Iceland, visited the Althingi parliament yesterday along with his entourage. They met with Parliamentary Speaker Ásta Ragnheidur Jóhannesdóttir and the Althingi’s foreign affairs committee.
Jóhannesdóttir presented the Dalai Lama with an Icelandic lava rock from Thingvellir, where Althingi was founded in 930 AD, and the Dalai Lama, in exchange, gave her a Tibetan scarf, mbl.is reports.
Minister of Industry Katrín Júlíusdóttir and Minister of Health Ögmundur Jónasson, along with MPs Birgitta Jónsdóttir of the Civic Movement and Björgvin G. Sigurdsson of the Social Democrats, also met with the Dalai Lama earlier in the day.
Minister of Social Affairs Árni Páll Árnason and Minister of the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir met with him at a pan-religious peace ceremony in Hallgrímskirkja on Monday, Fréttabladid reports.
Yesterday, the Dalai Lama also gave a talk at the Laugardalshöll arena in Reykjavík.
According to mbl.is, the organizers of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Iceland tried to set up a meeting between him and Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir but received no reply.
Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon explained to Fréttabladid that the PM was in another part of the country at the time and that he himself had not seen a reason to meet with the Dalai Lama, since he doubted that he took any interest in Iceland’s economic affairs.
Both President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson were out of the country.
Grímsson was in Cyprus to attend the opening of the Small States Games but the day before he had met with Zhang at the Chinese Embassy. Presidential secretary Örnólfur Thorsson said that the timing of the meeting had been coincidental and that the matter of Tibet had not been discussed.
According to the Fréttabladid’s sources, the Dalai Lama’s visit has caused tension and uncertainty among Icelandic authorities.