US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama at the White House on Wednesday amid a warning by China that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader would damage diplomatic relations.
Tensions are high between the US and China over Beijing’s aggressive territorial moves in East Asia.
Reuters is reporting that Obama’s fourth White House meeting with the Dalai Lama in the past eight years took place in the residence of the executive mansion, instead of the Oval Office where the president normally meets world leaders.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the choice of the residence emphasized the “personal nature of their meeting.”
Obama urged “meaningful and direct dialogue” between the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences, the White House said in a release.
China considers the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the meeting would encourage “separatist forces” and urged Washington to abide by its promises to recognize that Tibet is part of China and cease any support for Tibet independence.
Obama told the spiritual leader he does not support Tibetan independence, the White House said.
He thanked the Dalai Lama for his condolences for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, Earnest said.
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