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Tibet-USA-Dalai-Lama-Barack-Obama-2016Washington, DC — US President Barack Obama met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the fourth time on 15 June, defying stern warnings from Beijing.

According to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the President has warm personal feelings toward the Tibetan Spiritual Leader, appreciates his teachings and believes in preserving Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions.

However few details could be given regarding their conversation, as the meeting was a personal affair that took place in the White House Residence as opposed to the Oval Office.

The Chinese government expressed anger over the meeting and warned the US should that it may damage their diplomatic relationship. China regularly criticises His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the international community and claims he is dangerous separatist who is aiming to divide the country.

These claims have so far been unfounded and Beijing does not back them up with constructive evidence. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said that separation and independence is not what he seeks, instead he wants a relationship with China and genuine autonomy for Tibet through an approach dubbed the 'Middle Way Approach'.

This policy means achieving autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China. His Holiness sees it is a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties. For Tibetans their culture, religious identity and religion are protected and for the Chinese their security and territorial integrity is preserved. Neighbouring countries could also benefit from peaceful borders and international relations.

The White House shares this view and reiterated that the US government's policy is also not to seek Tibetan independence. Following Obama's meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 16 June 2011, the White House said it applauds his "commitment to non-violence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the Middle Way Approach". They added, "A dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans".

Meanwhile, China rejects this approach accusing it of being a camouflaged way of achieving independence. "Tibet cannot be independent, neither can it be a semi-independence or disguised independence," Losang Gyaltsen, chairman of China's Tibet Autonomous Region said in 2014.

On the subject of China's anger over the meeting, Earnest said: "Both the Dalai Lama and President Obama value the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the United States and China. All of those were policy positions of the United States before the meeting occurred and our policy hasn't changed after the meeting."

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