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Obama Stresses Human Rights for Tibetans in Talks With Dalai Lama

President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Saturday, July 16, 2011.
President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Saturday, July 16, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama stressed the importance of protecting the human rights of Tibetans when he met Saturday at the White House with the Dalai Lama.

In a statement following the closed-door talks, the White House said Mr. Obama talked of the need for direct dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences.

It said the president also reiterated the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of China.

China sharply criticized the United States following the talks, saying that the meeting interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and damaged U.S.-China relations.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman demanded the United States seriously consider China's stance and stop supporting what he called "anti-China separatist forces."

China accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibet's secession from China, a charge the Dalai Lama denies.

The White House announced the meeting between the two Nobel Peace Prize winners Friday at the end of the Dalai Lama's nearly two-week visit to the U.S. capital.

Mr. Obama last met the Dalai Lama in 2010 at the White House in a low-key meeting that also angered China. Beijing has been warning the U.S. for more than a week not to hold official meetings with the Dalai Lama.

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 to give Buddhist teachings.

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 United States since he stepped down as the political leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Watch the Dalai Lama's recent interview with VOA

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