DOWNING Street has insisted the UK's delicate diplomatic relationship with China is improving despite Nick Clegg risking Beijing's ire by appearing to praise the Dalai Lama on the eve of a visit by the Chinese premier.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he would be "more than honoured" to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader again. Relations with China have only recently thawed after a difficult few years following Mr Clegg and David Cameron's decision to both meet the Dalai Lama in 2012.
Today the Tory-Lib Dem government hope to agree a number of significant trade deals with China, and pave the way for a boost to beef and lamb farmers.
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But it emerged yesterday that although David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband will meet Premier Li when he is in the UK Mr Clegg will not.
Aides to the Lib Dem leader insisted that the two men were not due to meet.
The decision of Mr Clegg and David Cameron to meet the Dalai Lama during a visit to London two years ago infuriated Beijing.
For a time Chinese-British relations struggled, just as ministers were attempting to build trade links
Mr Clegg said he had no regrets.
"There are no plans for the Dalai Lama to be met by either David Cameron or myself again but I would be more than honoured to meet him again".