Washington, Feb 22: In the face of objections from China,
President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama Friday saying the US supports
his “Middle Way” approach of neither assimilation nor independence for
Tibetans in China.
Obama’s meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader and fellow Nobel
laureate, who is in the US on a speaking tour, was closed to
photographers, and, unlike during some previous visits, the Dalai Lama
departed the White House without speaking to reporters.
According to a readout of the meeting provided by the White House, Obama
“reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique
religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of
human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China”.
He “commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and
expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach”.
The president, the readout said, stressed that he encourages direct
dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that
produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans.
In this context, the president reiterated the US position that Tibet is
part of the People’s Republic of China and that the US does
not support Tibet’s independence, it said.
The Dalai Lama, according to the readout, stated that he is not seeking
independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his
representatives and the Chinese government will resume.
Obama and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and
constructive relationship between the US and China, it said.
Obama earlier met the Dalai Lama in February 2010 and July 2011.
Presidents of both Democratic and Republican parties over the past three
decades have met with the Dalai Lama in the White House.
Each time China has responded to those meetings with angry comments
about how they would “inflict grave damages” on the relationship between
Washington and Beijing.
Earlier Friday, China urged Obama to call off the meeting with the Dalai
Lama, calling it a “gross interference in the internal affairs of China”.
“It will seriously violate norms governing international relations and
severely impair China-US relations,” said Hua Chunying, a spokesperson
for China’s foreign ministry in Beijing.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)