WASHINGTON -- President Obama met with the Dalai Lama -- the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader -- at the White House on Thursday despite strong objections from Chinese government officials.
The meeting has the potential to further complicate Sino-U.S. tensions, which have been rising in recent months. China has warned it would damage Beijing's ties to Washington.
The Dalai Lama has said he favors genuine autonomy for Tibetans, not independence for Tibet. Beijing regards the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.
During the meeting, Obama stressed his "strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans," according to a White House statement.
The president praised the Dalai Lama's "commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government," the statement added. He also stressed the importance of having both sides "engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences, and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks," it noted.
The Dalai Lama, while acknowledging that he raised concerns about Tibet during the meeting, did not provide further specifics about his home region's political situation while addressing reporters.
He said he admired America as a "champion of democracy and ... freedom," and he cited the need to promote "religious harmony" and "human value."To read full CNN story — Go Here Now.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.