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Obama Meets With Dalai Lama Despite China's Objection

U.S. President Barack Obama greets the Dalai Lama at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 15, 2016.

U.S. President Barack Obama has accepted personal condolences from the Dalai Lama on the Orlando shooting, despite warnings from China that the two leaders should not meet.

The Dalai Lama, a Buddhist spiritual leader revered by Tibetans, met with Obama behind closed doors Wednesday at the White House. The Obama administration said the president accepted the Dalai Lama's condolences for the shootings in Orlando and praised him for his efforts to promote compassion, empathy and respect for others.

Earlier, China warned Obama against meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it could damage mutual trust. China sees the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.

Obama has met with the Dalai Lama multiple times and refers to him as "a good friend." But China fears these meetings send the wrong message to Tibetans.

"If such meeting goes through, it will send a wrong signal to the separatist forces seeking Tibet independence, and it will damage mutual trust and cooperation," China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Wednesday in Beijing.

Dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China's central government stopped in 2010.

Tibetans re-elected their prime minister in May, and they maintain hope that talks with China about a "middle way" that would give Tibet autonomy can continue.

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