No White House Welcome Mat for Dalai Lama - NBC 7 San Diego

No White House Welcome Mat for Dalai Lama

Obama administration seeks improved relations with China



    No White House Welcome Mat for Dalai Lama
    AFP/Getty Images
    Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama won't have a sit-down with President Obama when he visits Washington this week.

    The Dalai Lama should not drop in for a White House visit when he is in Washington this week, say officials, who note that a photo op with President Obama could alienate the Chinese ahead of a key summit next month.

    It will be the first time since 1991 that the Tibetan leader has visited Washington and not met with the U.S. president. Most of the ten visits have been informal, though in 2007, President Bush became the first president to meet with the Dalai Lama publicly, awarding him the Congressional Gold Medal.

    But the timing is bad this week, according to diplomats and government officials who talked to the Washington Post. Obama hasa summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month. The decision to postpone a meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama appears to be aimed at improving ties with China.

    Talks between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an anti-Chinese uprising, collapsed in 2008. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and now considers the western region part of the nation. The Dalai Lama is Tibet's spiritual leader and heads Tibet's India-based government-in-exile.

    Get more: Washington Post