President Obama to meet Dalai Lama despite opposition from the Chinese Government

China said ties with the US were weakened when President Obama and the Tibetan spiritual leader last met in 2011

President Barack Obama is to meet with the Dalai Lama on Friday, a move which could damage ties between the US and China.

The meeting is part of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's US speaking tour, but China is urging the US President to cancel the event, accusing Washington of giving the Dalai Lama a platform to promote anti-Chinese activities.

But Washington maintains that President Obama is hosting the Dalai Lama in his capacity as a respected religious and cultural leader, and stresses that the US does not support Tibetan independence from China.

The Dalai Lama’s calls for a peaceful struggle for greater Tibetan autonomy away from Beijing, but Chinese officials denounces him as a separatist responsible for instigating self-immolations by Tibetans inside China.

President Obama’s previous meetings with him in 2010 and 2011 saw Beijing claim that Chinese-American ties were damaged.

“The US leader's planned meeting with Dalai is a gross interference in China's domestic politics,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry.

“It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations. It will inflict grave damages upon the China-US relationship.”

Traditionally, when President Obama sees Presidents and Prime Ministers, he hosts them in the Oval Office and allows reporters to witness a short portion of the meeting, but Mr Obama will host the Nobel laureate for a private, morning meeting in the White House's map room.

The change is regarded as an attempt to prevent comparisons being drawn between the conversation and the formal meeting conducted by the President with heads of state.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said: “The United States supports the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China.”

Relations between the US and China are already on edge over Beijing's increasingly aggressive steps to assert itself in the region, including in territorial disputes with its smaller neighbours.

China's emergence as a leading global economic and military power has strained ties with Washington, and the two also have clashed over cyber theft and human rights.

Beijing has protested when world leaders have granted an audience to the Dalai Lama in the past, including when he met Prime Minister David Cameron last year, casting a chill over relations between London and Beijing, and delaying a visit to China by Cameron.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exiled in northern India since fleeing China in 1959. He is widely respected around the world for his advocacy of peace and tolerance.

Yesterday he delivered a message of compassion and care for humanity while addressing a right-leaning Washington think tank.

Additional reporting by AP

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