Dalai Lama Aide Defends Timing of Meeting with President Obama

The Dalai Lama's top envoy is defending U.S. President Barack Obama's decision not to meet with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader while he is in Washington this week.

In a statement Monday, envoy Lodi Gyari said the Dalai Lama will not be meeting with the president because he agreed they would meet after a U.S.-China summit in November. Gyari said the Dalai Lama hopes a cooperative U.S.-Chinese relationship will help support Tibet's interests.

The exiled spiritual leader arrives in Washington Monday for a five-day visit. He is scheduled to meet with lawmakers and make other appearances in the U.S. capital throughout the week.

This is the first time since 1991 that the Dalai Lama will be in Washington and not meet with the U.S. president.

Supporters of the Dalai Lama have said they consider the lack of a meeting a slight by the Obama administration, which is trying to improve relations with China.

The Chinese government often takes retaliatory actions against countries whose leaders meet with the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Obama met with the Dalai Lama while the Illinois senator was a member of the U.S. Congress.

In September, a high-level delegation representing President Obama met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile has its headquarters.

Former President George W. Bush became the first U.S. president to hold a public ceremony with the Dalai Lama, when in 2007 he presented him the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award granted by the U.S. Congress.