Obama tells Dalai Lama U.S. can't support Tibetan independence

Feb. 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

BEIJING, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- President Obama agreed with the Dalai Lama on renewing talks between China and Tibet, but couldn't support Tibetan independence, the White House said Friday.

Obama encouraged direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences, saying such a dialogue could be positive for China and Tibetans, the White House said in a readout of the meeting.

"In this context, the president reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence," the readout said.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, said he wasn't seeking independence for Tibet and also hoped a dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government would resume. Tibet is currently claimed by China as part of its territory.

Obama also spoke of his support for the preservation of Tibet's religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in China. The president commended the spiritual leader's commitment to peace and non-violence.

Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Obama not to meet with the Dalai Lama Friday, saying it could harm U.S.-China relations.

The meeting would be "a gross interference in China's internal affairs and a serious violation of the norms of international relations, and will seriously damage U.S.-China relations," said a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"We urge the U.S. side to take seriously the Chinese side's concerns, immediately cancel plans for the U.S. leader to meet the Dalai, and not provide facilities or a pulpit for the Dalai to engage in anti-China separatist activities in the U.S.," the statement said.

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