By Ria Novosti
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Saturday to express his support for the protection of human rights for Tibetans, the White House said.
“This meeting underscores the President’s strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.
Obama will also stress his support for dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government on gaining greater autonomy for the 6 million Tibetans living in the Tibetan Autonomous region of China.
The meeting will be closed to news media and will most likely infuriate Beijing which has already lashed out at U.S. lawmakers who recently held similar meetings with the man China regards as an “instigator of separatism.”
China occupied Tibet in 1950 and claims the region has been part of its territory for centuries. No state has yet recognized the Tibetan government-in-exile in neighboring India.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, has repeatedly said he seeks autonomy for Tibet rather than independence from China. He retains his role as a spiritual leader to the Tibetan Buddhists after announcing his resignation from political leadership in March.
Beijing has accused the Nobel Peace Prize winner of orchestrating the March 2008 unrest in Tibet, which left 19 people dead and 623 injured, according to official Chinese reports. The Dalai Lama has denied the allegations.