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12january20102US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday acknowledged that "friction is likely [between the US and China] when President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama", according to the Washington Post. After months of delay, the two heads of state are reportedly expected to meet one another soon, possibly as early as next month.

Clinton explained that while the US recognizes China's sovereignty over Tibet, "we support the legitimate desire for cultural and religious respect and autonomy"-the same points that His Holiness has himself emphasized.

After the US President canceled a meeting with His Holiness in October-the first president in 18 years to do so-because of an upcoming delegation to China, many activists accused him of pursuing economic ties at the expense of human rights, but His Holiness said he understood the President's position, and did not want to "cause any inconvenience to anybody." At that time, the two leaders tentatively planned to meet early this year, well after Obama's China negotiations.

Speaking on the first day of an Asia Pacific tour of Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, the secretary of state reasoned that the US and Chinese leaders have a "mature" enough relationship to sort out their differences over Tibet, the Washington Post reported.

"Everyone's aware that China is a rising power of the 21st century," she said. "But people want to see the United States fully engaged in Asia, so that as China rises the United States is there as a force for peace."

According to an article in the Kuwait Times, the Chinese have already reacted strongly to a US decision last week to send almost one billion dollars worth of upgraded Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan, which China also claims as its own territory.

John J Tkacik Jr, a retired State Department official, noted that the US is legally obligated to ensure Taiwan's self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, AFP reported.

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