[QODLink]
Americas
US president meets Dalai Lama
Obama holds talks with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader despite Chinese opposition.
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2010 21:31 GMT

Thursday's meeting between the US president and the Tibetan leader was a low-key affair [Reuters]

Barack Obama, the US president, has met the Dalai Lama, despite a warning from China that talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader could strain ties.

The meeting, which took place at the White House on Thursday, was a low-key affair closed to the media.

"The president commended the Dalai Lama's ... commitment to non-violence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government," the White House said in a written statement after the nearly hour-long meeting.   

Obama encouraged China and the Dalai Lama's envoys to keep up efforts to resolve their differences through negotiations, despite recent talks having yielded little progress.

The Dalai Lama, clad in sandals and burgundy robes, spoke to reporters on the White House driveway after the meeting, saying he had expressed to Obama his admiration for the United States as a "champion of democracy, freedom, human values".

Chinese objections

The meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama is likely to affect ties with Beijing, which have already been affected by disputes over US arms sale to Taiwan and Chinese internet censorship.

The Dalai Lama's visit could also complicate Obama's efforts to secure China's help on key issues such as imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, resolving the North Korean nuclear standoff and forging a new global accord on climate change.

But Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, dismissed concerns over Sino-US relations.

"Chinese officials have known about this and their reaction is their reaction," he said on the eve of the meeting, insisting that the two nations have a "mature relationship" capable of withstanding disagreements.

Although admired by millions around the world as a man of peace, the Dalai Lama is accused by Beijing of being a dangerous separatist who foments unrest in Tibet.

Obama had delayed meeting the Dalai Lama until after first seeing Chinese leaders during his Asia trip last year.

Ahead of the talks, Tibetans living near the Dalai Lama's birthplace in northwest China welcomed the White House meeting with a show of fireworks.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.