Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast today, U.S. President Barack Obama warmly greeted His Holiness the Dalai Lama and said, “I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend. [The Dalai Lama is] a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, who inspires us to speak up for the dignity and freedom of all human beings.”
The New York Times reports that Obama added: “His Holiness expresses that basic law: Treat thy neighbor as yourself. The Dalai Lama — anybody who’s had an opportunity to be with him senses that same spirit.”
According to Reuters,
“The Dalai Lama was in the audience at a table in the front row across from the president along with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, a signal of White House support. Obama nodded and smiled at the Dalai Lama, waving after clasping his hands to greet the spiritual leader as the event began. Organizers also recognized the monk, prompting applause.”
“The President is a strong supporter of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and preserving Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions,” said National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell Meehan on earlier this week.
On Monday, February 2, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei voiced opposition to any meeting, “China is opposed to any nation or government using the Tibet issue to interfere in China’s domestic affairs, and opposed to any country’s leader meeting with the Dalai Lama in any manner.”