President Barack Obama will hold off meeting with the Dalai Lama until after his first visit to China in November, a White House official said.
Obama decided not to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader during the Dalai Lamas trip to Washington in October, said White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. The two will meet in the US capital after the presidents trip to China, she said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
China has criticised states that allow visits by the Dalai Lama, viewed by the government in Beijing as a separatist leader who wants to divide the country. Last month China reiterated its resolute opposition to his visit to Taiwan for five days this month, saying it was bound to have a negative influence on relations between the two governments, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said August 31.
Earlier this week, Jarrett met with the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in Dharamshala, India, to brief him about the administrations approach to Tibet.
Jarrett said in a statement she emphasized Obama’s commitment to supporting the Tibetan people and securing their human and civil rights. She also said Obama commended the Dalai Lama for looking for a solution based on autonomy within China.
The Dalai Lama expressed the hope the Tibetans may see progress in the resolution of their differences with China during Obama’s presidency, according to the statement.
We firmly oppose any foreign forces interfering in Chinas internal affairs under the pretext of Tibet-related issues, Chinas Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters on September 15. The US side is well aware of our position on this issue.
Every president since George H.W. Bush has sat down with the Dalai Lama, frequently prompting criticism from the Chinese government. Obama met him when he was still a US senator, though he cited a scheduling conflict during the presidential campaign for not meeting him last year.
Former President George W. Bush gave the Dalai Lama the Congressional Medal of Freedom in October 2007.