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13may20103Moscow: Russia is ready to help settle the conflict between China and the Tibetan spiritual leader 'His Holiness the' Dalai Lama, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

Lavrov said that Moscow supports the development of interreligious and interconfessional ties, but is against aspects of religion that have been distorted into politics.

"We are following carefully what is happening between the leadership of China and the Dalai Lama and we know that the Chinese leadership is deeply committed to the Dalai Lama dissociating himself from any kind of political activity and separatist tendencies in regard to one or another territory in China," Lavrov said during a speech at the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament.

'His Holiness' the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959, has repeatedly said he seeks autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from China.

Beijing accused the Nobel Peace Prize winner of orchestrating the March 2008 unrest in Tibet, which left 19 people dead and 623 injured, according to official Chinese reports. 'His Holiness' the Dalai Lama has denied the allegations.

Lavrov said that occasional attempts to politicize 'His Holiness' the Dalai Lama's role as a spiritual leader do not bring any desired results, including the development of ties between the Dalai Lama and Buddhists in Russia.

"If all the parties make attempts to separate clearly pastoral contacts from political associations, this would be a solution to the problem. We are ready to assist in this," Lavrov said.

There are some 700,000 followers of Buddhism in the Russian Federation, or about 0.5% of the total population.

China is repeatedly infuriated when world leaders meet with the Dalai Lama as China accuses him of heading a separatist group seeking independence for Tibet. China has always claimed Tibet as its territory and says it has autonomy.

In February, U.S. President Barack Obama received the Dalai Lama at the White House, which led to a souring of relations between Washington and Beijing.

Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, urged the United States to seriously take into account China's stance and stop "supporting anti-Chinese separatist forces."

Last October, 'His Holiness' the Dalai Lama received an award from the U.S. Congress in honor of his human rights work.

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