President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama on February 18, fulfilling a promise made when the 2 men did not get together during the Tibetan spiritual leader's last visit to Washington in the fall. He is an internationally respected religious leader and spokesman for Tibetan rights, and the President looks forward to an engaging and constructive dialogue.
But China, which took control of Tibet in the 1950s, considers the Dalai Lama a "separatist." His upcoming visit follows recent autonomy talks in China between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government. The United States supports these discussions and has consistently emphasized to China's leaders the importance of direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences.
The U.S. considers Tibet to be a part of China, but has human rights concerns about the treatment of many of the people there. The Dalai Lama is a respected religious and cultural leader, and President Obama will meet with him in that capacity, as have other U.S. presidents.
Washington and Beijing have many mutual interests in regional as well as global affairs, such as climate, the world economy and nonproliferation. Our relationship is mature enough that we can agree on issues that are of mutual interest. But the U.S. also understands that the two countries won't always agree on everything. The U.S., however, has been and remains strongly committed to building a positive, comprehensive and cooperative relationship with China.