Friday 24 February 2017

Obama holds talks with Dalai Lama

Alex Spillius in Washington and Peter Foster in Beijing

PRESIDENT Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama at the White House yesterday, brushing aside China's warning that talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader could further damage strained relations between the two powers.

Mr Obama used his first meeting with the Dalai Lama to urge Beijing to preserve Tibet's identity and protect its population's human rights.

The meeting took place amid wider tensions over US weapons sales to Taiwan, Beijing's currency policies and Chinese internet security.

"The president commended the Dalai Lama's . . . commitment to non-violence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government," the White House said in a statement after the meeting, which lasted almost an hour.

Mr Obama encouraged China and the Dalai Lama's envoys to keep up efforts to resolve their differences through negotiations -- although eight years of talks have yielded little progress.

The 74-year-old spiritual leader is reviled by Beijing as a separatist but is admired around the world for his commitment to non-violent protest.

The White House kept the encounter deliberately low-key, barring media coverage of the meeting itself and releasing only a limited number of official photographs.

After the talks, the Dalai Lama told reporters he had expressed his admiration for America as a "champion of democracy, freedom and human values".

His visit could complicate Washington's efforts to secure China's help on key issues such as imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, resolving the North Korean nuclear stand-off and forging a new global accord on climate change. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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