Obama-Dalai talks harm ties with US: China

BEIJING: China today bitterly condemned US President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama,

saying it had “seriously harmed” relations and summoning the American ambassador in Beijing to protest.

The denunciation came swiftly after Obama vowed support for Tibetan rights in his White House talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on Thursday, a meeting that China had repeatedly warned against.

“The United States action seriously interfered in Chinese internal affairs, seriously hurt

the feelings of China’s people and seriously harmed China-US relations,” read a statement released by foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.

Ma said the meeting “grossly violated basic norms of international relations” and US pledges to respect Chinese sovereignty.

The White House had meticulously planned the meeting in hopes of containing Chinese protests, inviting the Dalai Lama

to a private area of the

executive mansion rather than

the Oval Office and not allowing cameras inside.

But the 74-year-old Buddhist monk took the unusual step of mingling with reporters afterwards, telling them he was “very happy” with Obama’s support

and even engaging in a playful snowball fight.

The White House later put out a picture of the two Nobel Peace Prize laureates in the 45-minute meeting and issued a statement backing the Dalai Lama’s goals.

“The president stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “The president commended the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ approach, his commitment to non-violence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government,” Gibbs said.