'Not seeking independence for Tibet from China': When Dalai Lama met Barack Obama

Washington: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told US President Barack Obama on Wednesday that he is not seeking independence of Tibet from China and hoped that talks with the Chinese government would resume soon, the White House said.

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

"The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the United States and China," said the statement issued after the two Noble laureates met at the Maple Room of the White House, which was described as a personal meeting.

During the meeting, the Dalai Lama condoled Obama over shooting in Orlando on Sunday. Obama commended the Dalai Lama for his efforts to promote compassion, empathy, and respect for others.

The two leaders discussed the situation for Tibetans in China, the White House said.

A file photo of Dalai Lama. Reuters

A file photo of Dalai Lama. Reuters

Obama expressed support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetans in China.

"The President lauded the Dalai Lama's commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach," the White House said.

Obama in his meeting encouraged meaningful and direct dialogue between the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences.

"In this context, the President reiterated the longstanding US position that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China, and the US does not support Tibetan independence," it said, adding that the two agreed on the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the US and China.

"The President welcomed the Dalai Lama's leadership on climate change issues, and expressed support for the Dalai Lama's efforts to raise awareness of the importance of limiting global warming, including to protect the Himalayan glaciers and the environment on the Tibetan plateau," the White House said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting as personal.

"In this case, the Dalai Lama is not a head of state, and so this was handled differently. When there's as head of state typically there will be a meeting in the Oval Office, typically there will be some kind of joint statement to the media. But in this case the interaction was different, primarily because the Dalai Lama is not a head of state," he said in response to a question.

"But the President does have a personal affection for the Dalai Lama and for his teachings. The President does support the preservation of Tibet's unique, religious cultural linguistic traditions, so that's the president had the meeting, but the meeting was treated differently than his meetings with other heads of state, because the Dalai Lama is not a head of state," he said.

Responding to a question on Chinese opposition to the meeting, Earnest said that has not worked.

"Based on the reaction from the Chinese government that somebody referred to earlier it sounds like if they're hoping to have that kind of influence they are not succeeding," he said.

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2016 11:23 AM

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