Obama meets Dalai Lama despite China protest

Ignoring China's concern, a meeting between President Obama and the separatist Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama takes place at the White House.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The Dalai Lama speaks at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, US June 13, 2016.

Updated Jun 16, 2016

Despite protests by China, US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, at the White House on Wednesday.

Obama met the Dalai Lama privately in the residence of the executive mansion at 10:15 a.m. local time. It was the fourth meeting between the two in the past eight years, the last being when the latter visited the US in 2014. 

In a press release, the White House said that Obama urged "meaningful and direct dialogue" between the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences.

China considers the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist and has accused the US of not honouring its pledges to not support any separatist activities against Beijing.

"We demand the US government earnestly stands by its promises, conscientiously handle the relevant issue in accordance with the one China principle and not give any space to any individual or behavior which tries to create two Chinas, one China one Taiwan, or to split China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said prior to the meeting. 

US President Barack Obama delivers a statement after a meeting with his national security team at the Treasury Department in Washington, US, June 14, 2016.

According to the White House statement, Obama told the exiled Buddhist leader that he does not support Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama, who once called President Obama a long-time friend, has long called for "genuine" autonomy for Tibet rather than independence.

To a query about Beijing’s response over his meeting with the US president, the Dalai Lama said, "I don't know-you should ask them… in Peking there are different views. Some people there have a more realistic view. Some are more hardline, which is more narrow-minded."

TRTWorld, Reuters