US President Bush meets Dalai Lama

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Washington, Oct 17: Ignoring Chinese objections, US President George w Bush had a private meeting with Dalai Lama at the White House, on the eve of a Capitol Hill ceremony to give Tibetan spiritual leader the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honor. The 30-minute meeting, their fourth, held in the White House. Officials gave no summary of their discussion, and, unlike previous visits, no still photograph was released.

According to reports, the Dalai Lama and the President were joined by First Lady Laura Bush for a discussion on violations of human rights in Burma.

Later in the day today, the Tibetan leader will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his ''fight for democracy, freedom, and Tibet's cultural heritage through a negotiated settlement with Beijing based on autonomy within the People's Republic.'' Bush will also be present at the Capitol Hill ceremony where the Tibetan leader receives the Gold medal. This will be the first time a sitting US President will appear with the Dalai Lama at a public event.

According to a Beijing repot, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi demanded cancellation of the award ceremony, saying it seriously violates the norms of international relations, wounds the feelings of the Chinese people, and interferes with China's internal affairs.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino, however, said ''yesterday's meeting should not come as a surprise to China because President Bush had discussed it with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Asian Pacific Economic summit in Australia earlier this month.''

UNI

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