WASHINGTON – President Obama is scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday as the Tibetan religious leader stops by on a U.S. tour.
The meeting will be the third between the celebrated Buddhist monk and Obama, who has praised the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and his advocacy for a “middle way” in Tibet’s long-running sovereignty dispute with China.
The closed-door session is likely to provoke a condemnation from China. After the last meeting in July 2011, Chinese officials accused Obama of interfering with internal affairs and harming Sino-U.S. relations.
In announcing the meeting, the White House was sensitive to the concerns. Obama will not greet the Dalai Lama as he would a foreign leader; the meeting with occur in the Map Room, not the Oval Office.
The National Security Council’s spokeswoman stressed that U.S. policy considers Tibet to be part of the People’s Republic of China and does not support Tibetan independence.
“The president will meet with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader,” Caitlin Hayden said in a statement, noting that past presidents of both parties have welcomed the Nobel Peace Prize winner to the White House.
Hayden added that the U.S. has concerns about human rights abuses in the Tibetan areas of China.
“The United States supports the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China,” Hayden said. “We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions.”