Foreign and Defense Policy

Washington Has Mostly Open Arms for the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama receives the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 (White House)

Just a quick reminder to the White House that there’s still time to meet with the Dalai Lama. I know, you may have been concerned that he would have skipped town before you had a chance to welcome him with open arms, like Capitol Hill did last week in one of the most bipartisan showings in a long time. But luckily the Tibetan spiritual leader will be in town through Saturday.

Reports indicate that the White House is still mum on whether it will invite the Dalai Lama, there’s no meeting on the weekly White House guidance, and the story has lost steam. Maybe it has to do with the inglorious exit given the Tibetan leader in February 2010 when he dropped by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Surely it has nothing to do with China, right? The PRC’s reaction to the meeting with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Thursday was a tad irritated, we’ll say, according to the Foreign Ministry’s weekend statement:

Tibet-related issues are purely China’s internal affairs. China firmly opposes any country or any person’s interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Tibet-related issues. Dalai’s words and deeds over the past decades demonstrate that he is not a pure religious figure, but rather a political exile long engaged in splittist activities under the religious cloak. China urges relevant US lawmakers to stop condoning and supporting anti-China separatist activities of the Dalai clique.

While China is graciously leaving a door open for irrelevant lawmakers to support His Holiness, they wouldn’t be any happier about President Obama meeting with his fellow Nobel Peace laureate. Lawmakers (the relevant ones) have encouraged Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama on this visit. And while crunch time on debt talks may fill Obama’s schedule this week, it can’t be ignored that the Dalai Lama arrived last week for an 11-day visit. It wasn’t exactly sprung on the Oval Office at the last minute.

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