China Urges US to Cancel Dalai Lama Meeting

Posted July 16th, 2011 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
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China has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to withdraw an invitation to the Dalai Lama to meet with him at the White House Saturday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement Saturday that China opposes any foreign official meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader. Hong went on urge the White house to avoid interfering in China's internal affairs and damaging China – U.S. relations.

The White House announced the meeting Friday at the very end of the Dalai Lama's nearly two-week visit to the U.S. capital. The White House had previously declined to commit publicly to a meeting. It will not be open to the media.

Mr. Obama last met the Dalai Lama in 2010 at the White House in a low-key meeting that angered China. Beijing has been warning the U.S. for more than a week not to hold official meetings with the Dalai Lama, saying China is against any foreign governments encouraging activities aimed at “splitting the motherland.” China accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibet's secession from China.

Earlier this week, the Dalai Lama told VOA he would be very happy to meet with President Obama if given the opportunity. But he said his main reason for being in the United States is for Buddhist teaching.

The Dalai Lama is in Washington for the 11-day kalachakra ritual, the first time the ritual has been held in the U.S. capital. The days of meditation and teachings aim to inspire inner peace as a means of reducing conflict around the world.

Although he formally retired from politics earlier this year, the Tibetan spiritual leader also met with officials at the State Department and with political leaders during his stay.

This is the Dalai Lama's first trip to the U.S. since he stepped down as the political leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile.