Dalai Lama engages with President Obama for third time
President Barack Obama meets with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Feb. 21, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama met President Barack Obama today for nearly an hour at the White House. During the meeting, President Obama expressed his deep concern about the worsening human rights situation in Tibet, and reiterated his support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet, according to a statement issued by the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala this morning (February 21). It was the third meeting during President Obama’s presidency, and fourth time overall.
Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: "This meeting affirms the long-standing friendship and respect of the United States toward His Holiness, his message, and his cause. American policy-makers understand that the stability Chinese leaders seek will not be fulfilled without a solution on Tibet. The steadfast U.S. support for dialogue and preservation of Tibet's unique heritage is reflected both through this meeting and through its Tibet policy and programs. ICT will continue to work at the global level to strengthen the political support for the Tibetan cause, while China increases its pressure and influence on democratic governments worldwide."
The Tibetan Central Administration in Dharamsala reported:
“In an almost hour-long meeting, His Holiness shared his core commitment related to promotion of human values, fostering interfaith dialogue and preservation of Tibetan people’s unique culture and rich tradition. The two leaders also discussed issues related to morality and leadership, and how one can produce new generation of ethical leaders in the 21st century.
“President Obama said that he was honored to meet His Holiness again. He reiterated his support for His Holiness’ Middle Way Approach policy and reiterated that Chinese government should have constructive dialogue with His Holiness’ representatives without any precondition. President Obama asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama about Tibet and His Holiness explained the current situation. President Obama expressed his deep concern about the worsening human rights situation in Tibet and Tibetan areas in China.”
Sikyong Lobsang Sangay said the “meeting reflects the American government and people’s continued commitment to freedom and democracy.” (www.tibet.net).
The meeting at the White House comes a week after Secretary of State John Kerry specifically raised concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet with top Chinese leaders in Beijing. President Obama is likely to talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a nuclear issues summit in the Netherlands in March, and is scheduled travel to four Asian countries in April, although not to China.
While the Dalai Lama has formally relinquished his political duties in the Central Tibetan Administration, he has said he will continue his responsibility to advocate for his people. He has stated that, as he continues a busy travel schedule to cities around the world, his visits to Washington, DC, and Brussels are political in nature.
The Dalai Lama met with President Obama in the White House in February 2010 and July 2011. In addition, he met then-Senator Obama at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2005. Today's meeting occurred during the first of two visits to Washington by the Dalai Lama; he returns during the first week of March 2014.
The Dalai Lama's visits to the White House, which began in 1991 and encompass meetings with four U.S. Presidents, are both a reflection and result of the base of support that the American public has for the Dalai Lama and his messages of universal peace and justice. ICT will continue to call on our supporters worldwide to help amplify Tibetan voices.
The White House statement on the meeting is as follows:
Readout of the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach. The President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. In this context, the President reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government will resume. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and constructive relationship between the United States and China.