Sarkozy was to have hosted the EU-China summit on Monday in the southern French city of Lyon and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, had been due to attend.

China has long sought to isolate the Dalai Lama from international support, accusing him of trying split China and blaming him for inciting anti-Chinese riots in Tibet earlier this year.

The Dalai Lama ruled out retirement after exiled Tibetans agreed at a summit last week to maintain the "middle way" which seeks autonomy rather than outright independence from China, despite the 73-year-old Nobel Peace laureate admitting recently that the 20-year-old strategy had been a "failure".

More than 500 exiled Tibetans met in Dharamsala, India, to review the Tibetan policy towards China and a majority supported the "middle way".

However they also said they would seek independence if China refused to grant Tibet autonomy within a reasonable amount of time.