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Obama-Lama summit goes ahead but China ain't pleased

It was an informal affair at a meeting of Tibet’s spiritual leader and the US president.

The Dalai Lama at an informal meeting with President Obama on Saturday.
The Dalai Lama at an informal meeting with President Obama on Saturday.

CHINA SLAMMED US President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama as an act that has “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs” and damaged Chinese-American relations, and demanded the US remedy the situation.

The strident statement from China’s Foreign Ministry came hours after Obama met with the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate in Washington. China had already called on the United States to stop Saturday’s meeting, warning it could hurt relations between the two countries.

But after the White House meeting went ahead, China issued a second, hardened statement and said the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the US had lodged objections with US representatives in Beijing and Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in the statement: ”Such an act has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and damaged Sino-American relations.

“We demand the US side seriously consider China’s stance, immediately adopt measures to wipe out the baneful impact, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek ‘Tibetan independence.”

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist intent on ending Chinese rule over Tibet. The Nobel laureate has repeatedly denied the accusations and says he seeks only a high level of autonomy for Tibet.

AFP reports that the meeting was an informal occasion with president Obama dressed down as the pair discussed issues in the White House private residence’s Map Room. The two met for around 44 minutes after which Obama’s daughters Malia and Sasha met with the Tibetan monk.

The Dalai Lama voiced happiness about the meeting and said he felt close to Obama at a “human level.” The White House said the president reiterated his strong support for the “unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world.”

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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