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Tibet exiles reject China warning over Dalai Lama-Obama meet

February 2, 2010

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
February 2, 2010

Dharamshala -- Tibet's government in exile on
Tuesday dismissed a strongly worded warning from
China against any possible meeting between the
Dalai Lama and US President Barack Obama.

"From our perspective, we feel the role of the
United States is to facilitate a just and honest
dialogue between the Dalai Lama's envoys and the
government of China," said the exiled government's spokesman, Thubten Samphel.

"So there is nothing wrong in a meeting between
the president and His Holiness," Samphel told AFP.

His remarks followed a warning from China that
any decision by Obama to meet Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader when he visits the United States
later this month would "seriously undermine" Sino-US ties.

The Dalai Lama will be in Washington at the start
of a 10-day US tour on February 16 but no meeting
with Obama has been announced.

The US president was sharply criticised and
accused of caving in to Chinese pressure for not
meeting the Buddhist leader when he visited Washington in October last year.

"The United States supports His Holiness's
approach that the issue of Tibet must be resolved
within the framework of the Chinese constitution," Samphel said.

"So we see no reason for China's argument that
such a meeting would undermine Sino-US relations," he added.

Samphel declined to give any details of a just
concluded round of talks in China between the
Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese government representatives.

Beijing said no progress was made in the
discussions, and stressed that the two sides
remain "sharply divided" on the future of the Himalayan region.

The two envoys were scheduled to brief the press
in Dharamshala -- the seat of the government in exile in northern India
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