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US, China 'just agree to disagree' on Dalai Lama

world Updated: Feb 20, 2010 15:33 IST

The US has brushed aside Chinese protests over President Barack Obama's and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meetings with the Dalai Lama saying "we just agree to disagree" on this subject.

State Department spokesman Phillip J Crowley on Friday noted that the Chinese had summoned US ambassador Jon Huntsman to lodge protests over the meetings in Washington on Thursday.

"That said, we continued our dialogue with the Dalai Lama as US administrations of both parties have for a number of years," he said. "I think on this issue, obviously, we just agree to disagree."

The Dalai Lama has now met every sitting US president since George HW Bush in 1991.

Crowley sad the "US relationship, as the Secretary (Clinton) has said, is a mature one. We have areas of cooperation, we have areas of disagreement, and we will work through this as we have in the past".

Asked about the discussions between Clinton and the Dalai Lama about the recent dialogue in Beijing between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, he said: "I think I'll defer to the Dalai Lama. I think he's had some interviews to characterise where he thinks they are in that dialogue.

"We obviously are strong believers that there should be a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, and we'll continue to encourage that."

Asked if Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai had discussed any other topic with Huntsman, Crowley said: "I would assume this was the principal topic."

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959, is on a 10-day visit to the US.