Washington, Jun 15 US President Barack Obama today met Tibetan Spiritual Leader the Dalai Lama at the White House, his spokesman said, underlining the meeting between the two Noble laureates does not change America's stand on Tibet.
"This is actually the fourth opportunity that President Obama has had to meet with the Dalai Lama here at the White House over the last eight years," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
"And I would just reiterate once again that the US's position, as it relates to Tibet has not changed. Tibet, per US policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China. And the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence," Earnest said. Obama met the 80-year-old spiritual leader in the historic Map Room of the White House.
The meeting was closed for the press. The Tibetan spiritual leader did not speak to the battery of reporters waiting inside.
"Just to give you a sense of the meeting, the President thanked the Dalai Lama for his expression of condolences about the terrorist attack in Orlando over the weekend," Earnest said.
"The President has spoken publicly in the past about his warm, personal feelings for the Dalai Lama.
The president has articulated his appreciation for the Dalai Lama's teachings, and believes in preserving Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions," he said in response to a question.
Earnest said the personal nature of their meeting would explain why the President received the Dalai Lama in the White House residence, as opposed to the oval office, for example.
Earlier in a statement, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who hosted a lunch for the Tibetan leader's simplicity has caught the imagination of the world.
"I think he has received just about every award we have to give him. In fact, I felt a little sheepish this morning when I realised that all I had to offer him was a lunch. But, as he likes to say, he is a simple Buddhist monk," Ryan said.
"And it is that very simplicitythe simplicity of faiththat has captured the world's imagination. It is almost as if he has no room in his soul for impatience or self-serving. All he has room for is kindness.
It is inspiring to see," he said. Later in the day the Dalai Lama attended an event of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to present the Democracy Service Medal to honour the courageous work of the late Tibetan Buddhist Monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a prominent political prisoner who died in a Sichuan prison in 2015.
According to Human Rights Watch, Tenzin's imprisonment in 2002 was the culmination of a decade-long effort by Chinese authorities to curb his efforts to foster Tibetan Buddhism.
Tenzin was an inspiration for Tibetans struggling to retain their cultural identity in the face of China's harsh policies.