Obama backs Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach

Obama defies China, meets Dalai Lama
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.


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