Obama pushes China-Tibet reconciliation

President Obama called for the resumption of talks between China and Tibet during his meeting with the Dalai Lama on Friday, while carefully avoiding rhetoric that could further anger the world's second largest economy.

Obama said he supports “direct dialogue” between the two parties, which he said would be positive for both sides. But the president clearly reiterated the United States' opposition to Tibetan independence, adding that both he and the Buddhist leader were committed to a “positive and constructive relationship between the United States and China.”

“The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence, and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s 'Middle Way' approach,” according to a White House read-out of the meeting. “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 meeting, which was closed to the press, was the third encounter between the two leaders, and the first since 2011. China warned ahead of time that going forward with the meeting would harm U.S.-Chinese relations, but the White House played down those concerns after the fact.

“When it comes to the relationship the United States has with China, the president and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and constructive U.S.-China relationship, and of course we are committed to a constructive relationship with China in which we work together to solve regional and global problems,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “So again, this is in keeping with past practice, the meeting the president had today with His Holiness in his capacity as a respected religious and cultural leader.”

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