Sidestepping Chinese opposition, US President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama at the White House today, a move likely to infuriate China which considers the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as a separatist.
“In the morning, the President will meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the White House,” said the presidential schedule yesterday.
The meeting to be held in the Map Room of the White House is closed press. The Tibetan spiritual leader is currently on a visit of the US.
Normally the US President meets the Tibetan spiritual leader when he is in the American Capital.
In the past, the White House has maintained that the US President meets the Dalai Lama in his capacity as religious and spiritual leader.
Despite the US believing that Tibet is an integral part of China, every meeting of the Dalai Lama with the American President angers Beijing.
“As a revered figure to Tibetans and people around the world, His Holiness reminds us of our great responsibility to act to safeguard human rights, promote equality and protect our environment,” said top Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Any attempts on the part of the Chinese to dilute the population of Tibetans in Tibet is something that would be just really wrong. Just plain and simple: wrong. Again, a challenge to the conscience,” she said.
Welcoming Obama’s decision to meet the Dalai Lama, Pelosi said Tibetan spiritual leader’s friendship with the US and the respect commanded from leaders on both sides of the aisle serve “as a powerful tribute to the righteousness of the cause of Tibetan autonomy.”
“If freedom-loving people do not speak out against oppression in Tibet, then we surrender all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” Pelosi said.
Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, the chairman and ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with the Dalai Lama and Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile.
“At a time when our country is grappling with an increasingly unstable and uncertain world, we are inspired by his universal message, which reflects many of our own deeply-held values,” Corker said, adding that they discussed about issues important to the US and the people of Tibet.
“As I continue to underscore the importance of protecting and uplifting basic human rights in the foreign policy of the United States as well as in the work of our partners and allies abroad, the Dalai Lama remains a source of inspiration and guidance to me,” Cardin said.