Obama Meets With Dalai Lama in Washington Despite China’s Concerns

© AP Photo / Tsering TopgyalTibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama - Sputnik International
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US President Barack Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks during a seminar in the Indian city of Mumbai - Sputnik International
China Expresses Concern Over Obama’s Possible Meeting With Dalai Lama
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama welcomed and praised the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC on Thursday, despite China voicing concerns over the meeting.

“I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings,” President Obama said.

President Obama raised concerns about twisting and distorting faith as a weapon, following the recent Islamic State (IS) incidents of religious violence and terror attacks in Paris and Pakistan.

While President Obama called the Dalai Lama a leader and a good friend, China has voiced concern in recent weeks about the meeting.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama - Sputnik International
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On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei was quoted by The Economic Times as saying that Beijing was “opposed to any nation or government using the Tibet issue to interfere in China’s domestic affairs, and opposed to any country’s leader meeting with the Dalai Lama in any form.”

Ahead of the Thursday meeting, Tian Dongdong, a writer in China’s official Xinhua News Agency, warned in a commentary that the meeting “downgrades Obama's credit as a national leader for breaking his commitments to China on the Tibet issue.”

Dongdong said that Thursday’s meeting would reverse the positive trends the United States and China have recently developed.

“There may be self-claimed friendship between Obama and the Dalai Lama as individuals, but a meeting between a US president and a political fugitive goes beyond the personal domain,” Dongdong said. “What lies under their hypocritical relationship is nothing but political deals and cold calculations.”

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the March 2008 unrest in Tibet which left 19 people dead and 623 injured.

China occupied Tibet in 1950 and claims that the region has been part of its territory for centuries, but no state has yet recognized the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959, has repeatedly stated that he seeks autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from China.

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