A senior aide to U.S. President Barack Obama is defending the president's decision to delay meeting with the Dalai Lama until after he meets with China's president next month.
Senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told Reuters news agency Wednesday that there is no stronger advocate for human rights than Mr. Obama. She said it was a "ridiculous conclusion" to draw to accuse the president of a lack of commitment to human rights.
Mr. Obama has plans to meet with the Dalai Lama later this year, after a U.S.-China summit in November.Jarrett acknowledged that the decision was made with an eye to Chinese sensitivities about Tibet, but said it was important for the United States to maintain a relationship with both China and Tibet. Jarrett says Mr. Obama has invited the Dalai Lama to the White House as "early as December."
While some supporters of the Dalai Lama say they consider the lack of a presidential meeting a slight, Tibet's spiritual leader has said Mr. Obama has communicated with him through private channels and that he is content with the president's policy.In an interview on CNN earlier this month, the exiled Buddhist leader said he understood that Mr. Obama would not meet him "to avoid embarrassment to the Chinese president."
The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and often takes retaliatory action against countries whose leaders meet with the exiled leader.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.