Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says Tibetans need U.S. help in resolving their conflict with the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama discussed the situation Monday with a top U.S. official for Tibetan affairs, Paula Dobriansky, at a meeting in the midwestern U.S. city of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dobriansky, the U.S. special coordinator for Tibetan issues and under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said President Bush has been a steadfast supporter of the need for a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Chinese leaders.

Ahead of the meeting, Dobriansky said in an article in The Washington Post the Dalai Lama is the only person with the influence and credibility to persuade Tibetans to refrain from violence and accept genuine autonomy within China.

She also said the Chinese government should cease its repressive measures and allow Tibetans to practice their religion and preserve their cultural identity.

China's official Xinhua news agency reported that the two met despite China's calls for the United States not to support the Dalai Lama's alleged separatist activities.

There was no immediate comment from Chinese officials on the meeting.

In Tibet Monday, the Communist Party launched what it calls a two-month "patriotic education" drive following recent protests in the region.

The Indian-based Tibetan government-in-exile says monks have been resisting the campaign. The exile government says some monastery heads have spoken out on the measure on the grounds that it will raise tensions further.

The Chinese government blames the Dalai Lama of masterminding several weeks of protests in Tibetan areas of The China and of seeking independence for Tibet. The Dalai Lama denies the charge, and says he only wants autonomy for Tibet.

The head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, is set to raise the issue of China's policies in Tibet during a two-day visit this week.

Tibet's government-in-exile says more than 150 people have died in the Chinese crackdown on mostly monk-led protests. China blames Tibetan rioters for the deaths of at least 20 people.