From an editorial in the IHT:
Now Steinmeier has one-upped himself, refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama when he comes to Germany on Friday, while Merkel is out of the country. The Foreign Ministry said Steinmeier was too busy. He did find time to go to Russia – the first senior European official to congratulate the new president, Dmitri Medvedev, and the new prime minister, Vladimir Putin. (…) Steinmeier’s defenders will undoubtedly argue that “quiet diplomacy” is better than well-publicized public meetings. But meeting leaders like the Dalai Lama, and trying to mediate between him and Beijing, is what foreign ministers are supposed to do. Steinmeier’s record, in this government and under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, is one of appeasement, whether it be China, Putin or Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov. If he has been involved in quiet diplomacy, it is hard to find evidence of it in any of those countries.