Nicolas Sarkozy has defied China by meeting the Dalai Lama.
Beijing warned bilateral trade with France could suffer if the encounter went ahead. It called off a summit with the European Union last Monday in protest.
But the French leader, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, called for calm from China, saying there is no need to “dramatise” the situation.
The meeting took place in the Polish port of Gdansk where Sarkozy also enjoyed a high-profile handshake with Lech Walesa.
It is 25 years since the former Solidarity trade union leader and the Polish pro-democracy icon was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And those invited to attend the celebrations included not only political figures but also Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama is popular in Poland where some see in his struggle with China echoes of their own battles, under Walesa, against communist rule.