China wants to develop friendly relations with Lithuania after they soured when Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the Dalai Lama in Vilnius in 2013, the Chinese's Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement published on the ministry's website on Tuesday.
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"In December 2014, Premier Li Keqiang met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius during the 3rd Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC). The Lithuanian side stated that it places high importance on developing friendly and cooperative relations with China, respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, stays committed to the one-China policy, recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China, does not support any separatist force or activity that advocates the so-called Tibet independence and undermines China's territorial integrity, and is ready to handle such sensitive issues in an appropriate manner in the future," the Chinese diplomat said.

"The Chinese side acknowledged the above Lithuanian statement. The Chinese government attaches importance to developing friendly and cooperative relations with Lithuania. The Chinese side and the Lithuanian side agreed to promote healthy and steady growth of the bilateral relations through enhanced communication and coordination, based on the principle of mutual respect, equality, and respecting each other's core interest and major concerns," Hua Chunying said.

The Chinese ministry does not say why the comments were made at this particular time.

Last December, the Board of the Lithuanian Seimas cancelled a planned three-day trip to Taiwan for fear of angering China. The decision was made following Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius' meeting with his Chinese counterparts in Serbia. This meeting is mentioned in the statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed coup in Tibet against the Chinese rule. Beijing considers him a separatist inciting violence. Meanwhile, Tibet's spiritual leader says he wants wider autonomy for his homeland.

The Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He gave up his political duties in 2011.

During his visit to Lithuania in September, 2013, the Dalai Lama met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė for "a private conversation". Soon after that the Lithuanian ambassador was summoned to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and visits of several Chinese officials to Lithuania were cancelled. Previously, Lithuania's former President Valdas Adamkus also met with the Dalai Lama.

Last week, the Dalai Lama attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington where US President Barack Obama called him a "good friend".

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