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Obama meets Dalai Lama despite China's protests

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-16

US President Barack Obama held a low-key meeting with the Dalai Lama on Saturday, reiterating support to the exiled Tibetan leader despite vocal protests from the Chinese government.

AFP - President Barack Obama on Saturday told the Dalai Lama of his "strong support" for human rights in Tibet during a meeting that defied warnings from China, the White House said.

The White House released a statement from the closed-press meeting along with a photograph, which showed a tieless Obama listening respectfully to Tibet's exiled spiritual leader in the executive mansion's private Map Room.

"The president reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world," the statement said.

"He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China."

Obama also reaffirmed that the United States considers Tibet to be a part of China. Beijing has insisted that the Dalai Lama is a separatist, although the Nobel laureate says he accepts Chinese rule and is seeking greater rights.

"The president stressed the importance he attaches to building a US-China cooperative partnership," it said.

Obama also stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve longstanding differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans," the statement said.

"The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume," it said.

China has held nine rounds of talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys, the last in January 2010. But the dialogue has yielded no tangible progress, leading many Tibetans to believe Beijing is trying to wait out the 76-year-old monk's death in hopes that his calls for greater rights will wither away without him.

Date created : 2011-07-16

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