"The president told China's leaders during his trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai Lama and he intends to do so," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday on way to Nashua, New Hampshire.
"The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious and cultural leader, and the president will meet him in that capacity," he said.
"To be clear, the US considers Tibet to be a part of China and we have human rights concerns about the treatment of Tibetans," Burton said urging "the government of China to protect the unique cultural and religious traditions of Tibet."
Although a date for the meeting has not been announced, Burton emphasized that the White House expects to continue maintaining a positive relationship with China despite the protests against the meeting with the Dalai Lama.
"[As] the president has expressed, we expect that our relationship with China is mature enough where we can work out issues of mutual concerns such as climate, the global economy, and non-proliferation, and discuss frankly and candidly those issues where we disagree," Burton said.
"The president is committed to building a positive, comprehensive and cooperative relationship with China."
At the State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley, taking note of the White House comments said: " The Chinese have made clear their views regarding meetings with the Dalai Lama, regarding arms sales to Taiwan.
"And I think what we're clearly indicating is that we will continue to follow our national interest just as we would expect China to follow its national interest."
"We continue to have a broad and deep relationship with China," Crowley said. "You have two of the most powerful nations on earth, and our interests coincide in many areas and our interests collide occasionally in a handful of those.
"And we work through them and will continue to work through them, through the kind of ongoing dialogue that has characterised our interaction with China since the Obama Administration came to office," Crowley said.