No Meeting This Week for Obama & the Dalai Lama, Yet a Future Meeting Is Certain, White House Says

By Lindsey Ellerson

Oct 5, 2009 5:00pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: The Dalai Lama arrives in Washington, DC today, but one meeting that won’t be on the exiled spiritual leader’s agenda during his five-day trip will be a meeting with President Obama.  But, White House officials say that a meeting is still a priority for the president. “The President has been a long and strong consistent supporter for greater rights and autonomy for the Tibetan people and is working to encourage a resumption of the dialogue,” a NSC official says. “The president absolutely intends to meet with the Dalai Lama.” This marks the first time the Dalai Lama will be in Washington since 1991, and will not meet with the sitting US president. An administration official says that the opportunity and a window for a meeting between the president and the Dalai Lama was discussed – but ultimately postponed – as both sides agreed that a meeting would be best after Obama returns from his trip to China in mid-November. “From the outset, there has been no question of President Obama not at the appropriate time meeting His Holiness, whom he holds in great esteem, “Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy said in a statement today. “Taking a broader and long-term perspective, His Holiness agreed to meet the President after the November US-China Summit.” While a representative for the Dalai Lama said that they anticipate a meeting this year, White House officials say no date has yet been set. The president will sit down with President Hu Jintao while he visits China next month.  The White House says that a good US-China relationship is one that can be beneficial to Tibet as well. “We, the Dalai Lama and the his representatives all attach great importance to a positive US/China relationship,” a NSC official says adding that President Obama is a strong supporter of greater rights – culturally, linguistically, and relationship for the Tibetan people, and that the administration is actively encouraging to open up the dialogue between China and Dalai Lama representatives. In September White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett traveled to India to meet with the Dalai Lama to convey the president’s support for Tibetan rights, an administration official says. The pPresident has previously met with the Dalai lama before – when he was a senator from Illinois. While in Washington, DC this week, the Dalai Lama will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional leaders. -Sunlen Miller

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