Mr. Lionnel Luca, a member of the French National Assembly and head of its Committee on Tibet, has said that he will not be present when Chinese President Hu Jintao addresses the Assembly on January 27, 2004 to symbolize his protest against Chinese policies in Tibet.

In a statement released on January 20, Luca said, “I will join the associations defending freedom and democracy in both Tibet and China in the Invalides” square, near the French foreign ministry. A demonstration has been planned at the venue to coincide with President Hu’s speech in the Assembly.

Luca, however, said he has sought a meeting with President Hu to present him a letter urging China to begin talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys and to commute the suspended death sentence on Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.

President Hu is visiting France from January 26 to 29, 2004 at the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac.

During the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s visit to France in October 1999, he spoke at length with President Chirac about Tibet, including on talks with the Dalai Lama, a Reuters report of October 25, 1999 quoted French officials as saying.