Date set for Obama-Dalai Lama despite China ire

The White House announced that Obama and the Dalai Lama would meet on Feb. 18, despite China's warning.

Date set for Obama-Dalai Lama despite China ire

The White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would meet on Feb. 18, despite China's warning that such talks could hurt already-strained Sino-U.S. relations.

In a swift response, Beijing urged Obama to "immediately" scrap the planned White House meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, China's state news agency Xinhua said.

The Dalai Lama's visit is likely to set off a new round of sniping from Beijing, already at odds with Washington over issues from trade to currencies to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

But the Obama administration is ready to weather China's displeasure over the Dalai Lama and expects its response to be no worse than in the past, "which is to criticize it and then we move on," a senior U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious leader and spokesman for Tibetan rights, and the president looks forward to an engaging and constructive dialogue," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Mindful of Chinese sensibilities, Obama had held off meeting the Dalai Lama, until after the president first saw Chinese leaders during a trip to Asia in November, a delay that angered some U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups.

But the White House made clear in recent days it would shrug off China's opposition and go ahead with the visit. All that was left was to set the date for the meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing regards as a dangerous separatist responsible for fomenting unrest in Tibet.


Reuters

Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2010, 13:40
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