US President Barack Obama met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at the White House on Wednesday despite a warning by China that it would damage diplomatic relations.
The meeting came at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China over Beijing’s assertive pursuit of territorial claims in East Asia.
Obama’s fourth White House meeting with the Dalai Lama in the past eight years took place in the White House residence, instead of the Oval Office where the president normally meets world leaders.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the choice of the residence emphasized the “personal nature of their meeting.”
He said Obama thanked the Dalai Lama for his condolences for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Earnest added that Obama had in the past spoken of his “warm personal feelings” for the Dalai Lama, appreciation of his teachings and belief “in preserving Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions.”