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10:12 Sep 17 2009

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Obama passes on meeting with Dalai Lama for now
09:24, September 17, 2009  

US President Barack Obama has pledged his support for the Dalai Lama but will not meet him during the latter's upcoming visit to Washington, outraging some "pro-Tibet independence" activists, AFP reported.

A White House delegation, including Valerie Jarrett, Obama's close Chicago friend and advisor, met Monday with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, northern India, as the US and China are engaged in an escalating trade spat following Obama's imposed punitive duties on tire imports.

Mike Hammer, spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said that Jarrett conveyed Obama's "respect" for the exile, but did not comment on whether the president would meet with the Dalai Lama when he visits Washington next month.

Meanwhile, China reiterated its stance on the Dalai Lama.

"China's position on Tibet-related issues is very clear and persistent. We are firmly opposed to any foreign official meeting with the Dalai Lama," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"The US understands China's position very well," Jiang said, adding that China opposes any foreign forces intervening in China's internal affairs.

Some "pro-Tibet independence" activists voiced dismay at the symbolism of the Dalai Lama visiting Washington without meeting Obama. The Dalai Lama has met with every US president since then-president George H W Bush in 1991, according to AFP.

"But those meetings were informal ones," Ren Donglai, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University center for Chinese and American Studies, told the Global Times. "The US has carefully dealt with the Dalai Lama, not irritating China on the one hand, and not being indifferent to the exile on the other hand.
But the Dalai Lama, in a statement released Monday by his office, said that he "looks forward to meeting with Obama after (Obama's) visit to China," which is scheduled in mid-November.

Kate Saunders, spokeswoman for the International Campaign for Tibet, indicated that Obama will likely meet with the Dalai Lama before the end of the year.

"The Dalai Lama wants to upgrade his international influence by meeting with the US president," Ren said. "The meeting with the Dalai Lama would be unwise against the backdrop of the escalating trade spat between China and the US. Obama needs to learn from the (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy meeting."

China last year canceled a major summit with the EU after Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama.

Agencies contributed to this story

Source: Global Times

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