Obama Meets Dalai Lama, Defies China

Saturday, 16 Jul 2011 01:43 PM

 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama met with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for roughly 45 minutes at the White House Saturday, potentially angering China, which called for the meeting to be canceled.

The White House announced Friday that Obama would meet the Dalai Lama for the first time in more than a year.

"(Obama) is naturally showing some concern for basic human values, human rights, religious freedom," the Dalai Lama said after the meeting, according to Kate Saunders, communications director of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet.

"Naturally, he shows genuine concern about the suffering in Tibet and also other places," Saunders quoted the Dalai Lama as saying.

There was no immediate comment from the White House about the details of the meeting.

China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist who supports the use of violence to set up an independent Tibet, said it opposed any meeting between him and foreign government officials.

The Nobel Prize laureate denies China's accusations, saying he wants a peaceful transition to autonomy for the remote Himalayan region, which China has ruled with an iron fist since 1950 when Chinese troops marched in.

When announcing the meeting, the White House said Obama would highlight his "enduring support" for dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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