US confirms Dalai-Obama meet, China says scrap it
US President Barack Obama will meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on February 18 at the White House even as China today asked the US to withdraw the decision.world Updated: Feb 12, 2010 19:43 IST
US President Barack Obama will meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on February 18 at the White House even as China on Friday asked the US to withdraw the decision.
"The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious leader and spokesman for Tibetan rights, and the president looks forward to an engaging and constructive dialogue," DPA quoted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying.
Gibbs said: "We have a mature enough relationship with the Chinese that we can agree on issues that are of mutual interest, but we also have a mature enough relationship that we know the two countries on this planet are not always going to agree on everything, and we'll have those disagreements."
China's foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in Beijing: "China firmly opposes the Dalai Lama visiting the US and US leaders' contacting with him."
He added that China's position on the issue has been "consistent and clear".
Ma said China has made repeated solemn representations with the US over Obama's possible meeting with the Dalai Lama.
"We urge the US side to fully understand the high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, honour its commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China and oppose 'Tibet independence'," Xinhua quoted Ma as saying.
Ma also called on the US to refrain from offering the Dalai Lama venue and "convenience for his engagement in anti-China splitting activities, and undermining the stability of Tibet and interfering in China's internal affairs, so as to avoid further damage to Sino-US relations".
US-Chinese ties have hit a low in recent weeks over financial and economic differences as well as US plans to sell weapons to Taiwan.
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959 and frequently travels abroad. His government-in-exile is not recognised by any country.