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Obama Hosts Dalai Lama at White House, Angering China

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the White House Friday, angering China, which warned of damaged ties with the U.S.

Friday's meeting was private and closed to the press.

While House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama repeated his strong support for Tibet's religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions. He commended the Dalai Lama's non-violent approach for more Tibetan autonomy within China.

Carney said the Dalai Lama told the president he is not seeking Tibetan independence and hopes to resume a dialogue with Chinese officials.

Mr. Obama met the Dalai Lama in the White House Map Room instead of the Oval Office, where presidents traditionally hold talks with world leaders.

White House officials say the president hosted the Dalai Lama in his capacity as a internationally respected religious and cultural leader.

Before the talks, China's foreign ministry urged the White House to cancel the meeting, warning of serious diplomatic repercussions.

It says the Dalai Lama uses the cloak of religion to engage in anti-China separatist activities. It has also accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging Tibetan separatists to set themselves on fire as a form of protest. The Dalai Lama has always denied the charge.

While the United States supports the human rights of Tibetans, it recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes its independence.

Mr. Obama hosted the Dalai Lama in 2010 and 2011 without any direct action by China.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of a campaign of religious and cultural persecution while majority ethnic Hans move into historically Tibetan areas.

China says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and points to huge ongoing investment it says has brought modernization and a higher standard of living to Tibet.