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6october20091His Holiness the Dalai Lama will visit Washington this week but will not meet US President Obama. No meeting was ever formally on the agenda, but the exiled Tibetan leader's trip to Washington has been planned for years, and earlier this year he expressed his hope to meet with the President.

Since 1991, His Holiness has been received by the sitting president at the White House ten times and, in 2007, President George W Bush awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal - Congress' highest civilian award.

According to the Washington Post, a senior US administration official denied the Dalai Lama ever sought an October meeting with Obama and said, "Instead he would like to see him in December". Notably, this would be after Obama's planned November summit in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and has been widely received as an effort to avoid controversy with the Chinese government.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a White House official as saying, "Both the Dalai Lama and we agree that a stable and positive US-China relationship will help advance progress on the Tibet issue, and that a meeting after the President's trip would further the likelihood of making progress on Tibetan issues."

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Samdhong Rinpoche accused the United States and other Western nations of "appeasement" toward China as its economic weight grows.

AFP also reported that Republican US Congressman Frank Wolf, a critic of China's human rights record, called it a "dark, dark moment" and added, "What would a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun in Drapchi prison think when he heard that President Obama is not going to meet with the Dalai Lama? I can almost hear the words of the Chinese guards saying to them that nobody cares about you in the United States."

His Holiness has been in North America for the past two weeks, giving spiritual teachings and making an appearance with fellow Nobel laureates. In Washington, he will meet Congress

leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longstanding supporter of the Tibetan cause.
He also plans to present an award to a group of Chinese who have tried to build bridges with Tibetans.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com