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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Obama to meet Dalai Lama on Feb 18: White House

February 13, 2010

By Matt Spetalnick
Editing by Doina Chiacu
February 11, 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House announced
on Thursday that President Barack Obama and the
Dalai Lama would meet on February 18, despite
China's warning that such talks could hurt
already-strained Sino-U.S. relations.

Obama's meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual
leader is likely to set off a new round of
sniping from Beijing, which has seen tensions
with Washington rise over issues ranging from
trade to currency to planned U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

"The president looks forward to engaging in a
constructive dialogue" with the Dalai Lama, said
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama told China's leaders during a visit to
Beijing in November of his intention to meet the
Dalai Lama, and the administration had made clear
in recent days that it would shrug off Chinese
opposition and go ahead with the talks.

China has become increasingly vocal in opposing
meetings between foreign leaders and the Dalai
Lama, who Beijing deems a dangerous separatist.

Strains over the Dalai Lama meeting and other
issues have raised worries that China might
retaliate by obstructing U.S. efforts in other
areas, such as imposing tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

But Gibbs insisted that Washington and Beijing --
the world's largest and third-biggest economies
-- have a mature enough relationship to find
common ground on issues of international concern
despite disagreements on other matters.

Beijing is already irate over U.S. proposals last
week to sell $6.4 billion of weapons to Taiwan,
the island that China treats as an illegitimate breakaway province.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition
from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but Washington
remains Taiwan's biggest backer and is obliged by
the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to help in the island's defense.

Adding to tensions, Obama vowed last week to
address currency problems with Beijing and to
"get much tougher" with it on trade to ensure
U.S. goods do not face a competitive disadvantage.
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