His Holiness the Dalai Lama met for nearly an hour Friday morning with US President Barack Obama, the carefully worded announcement of which came only late Thursday evening.
President Obama received the Dalai Lama in the White House map room in the latter’s “capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader,” according to the announcement.
Reporters were barred from the meeting, but a White House “readout” of the proceedings said in part that President 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 [and] commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach.”
The Central Tibetan Administration — Tibet’s government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India — reported that “His Holiness shared his core commitment related to promotion of human values, fostering interfaith dialogue and preservation of Tibetan people’s unique culture and rich tradition.”
Despite the White House’s explicitly stated position, in announcing the meeting, that “Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence,” the Chinese government nevertheless issued a sharp protest. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated before the meeting took place that it would “grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations, and severely impair China-US relations.”
The Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Obama took place amid other appearances in Washington, DC, at the beginning of a two-week US tour.