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Bush, Dalai Lama Meet at White House


President Bush met privately with the Dalai Lama Tuesday. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, China says the Tibetan spiritual leader's visit violates international relations.

President Bush met with the Dalai Lama for about 30 minutes in the private White House residence. Officials gave no summary of their discussion, and, unlike previous visits, no still photograph was released.

In an interview with VOA following his White House talks, the Dalai Lama says he and the president were joined by First Lady Laura Bush for a discussion of human rights violations in Burma.

The Dalai Lama is in Washington for Wednesday's Congressional Gold Medal ceremony where he will be honored for what American legislators say is his fight for democracy, freedom, and Tibet's cultural heritage through a negotiated settlement with Beijing based on autonomy within the People's Republic.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is demanding that the awards ceremony be cancelled as he says it seriously violates the norms of international relations, wounds the feelings of the Chinese people, and interferes with China's internal affairs.

China says Tibet has part of its territory for centuries and opposes any recognition of the Dalai Lama, who has been living in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed revolt against Chinese rule in 1959.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says President Bush understands China's objections but says Tuesday's meeting should come as no surprise since President Bush discussed it ahead of time with Chinese President Hu Jintao at this year's Asian Pacific Economic summit in Australia.

Perino says President Bush hopes President Hu could get to know the Dalai Lama as Americans see him: a spiritual leader who wants peace.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate told VOA that during his conversation with President Bush, they also discussed possible changes in the way future Tibetan spiritual leaders are selected.

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