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'Gross interference': China cries foul as Obama meets Dalai                                             

PTI | Jul 18, 2011, 02.56am IST

BEIJING: Hours after President Barack Obama had an audience with the Dalai Lama, China on Sunday summoned top US diplomat here to convey its "strong indignation" over the meeting, saying it amounted to "gross interference" in its internal affairs and damaged bilateral ties.

Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama "has grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said, expressing "stern objection" over the US act.

"We demand the US side to immediately adopt measures to wipe out the baneful impact, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek 'Tibet independence'," he said.

He charged that the Dalai Lama is in nature a political exile who has been engaging in secessionist activities in the name of religion.

"China objects firmly to any foreign leader's meeting with the Dalai Lama in any form and opposes to any country, or anyone, to interfere in China's internal affairs by using the Dalai Lama," he said.

Earlier, Chinese Vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai summoned Robert S Wang, charge d'Affaires of the US embassy here, to lodge solemn representations over Obama's meeting with Dalai Lama on Saturday.

Chinese Ambassador to the US, Zhang Yesui, also lodged representations with the American side in Washington, a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry here said.

The US permission for the Dalai Lama to visit the country and arrangement of its top leader's meeting with him have grossly violated the norms governing international relations and gone against the repeated commitments made by the US government, Ma claimed.

He noted that fostering of a sound and developing China-US relationship needs concerted efforts from both sides.

Brushing aside strong objections from China, Obama met the Dalai Lama and conveyed his "strong support" for human rights in Tibet during their 44-minute talks yesterday in the Map Room of the White House.

Emerging out of the meeting, officials representing the Dalai Lama said the US President shared "genuine concerns" about human rights in Tibet.

After the meeting, the Dalai said Obama is the President of the greatest democratic country, so naturally he is showing concern about basic human values, human rights and religious freedom.

"This meeting underscores the President's strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans," the White House said in a statement.

Obama, who last met the Dalai Lama in February 2010, reiterated yesterday he US policy that Tibet is part of China and the US does not support independence for it, stressing that he encouraged direct dialogue to resolve the issue.

The Dalai said he was not seeking independence for Tibet and hoped the dialogue between his representatives and China can soon resume, according to the White House.

Though China raised strong objections over the meeting, it is yet not clear whether it would let it come in the way of efforts by both countries to normalise the relations in all fronts, including the defence ties which were disrupted by the Obama-Dalai meeting last year as well as the US move to sell defence equipment to Taiwan.

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