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Obama postpones meeting with Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama arrived Monday in Washington and will be received by prominent lawmakers and the U.S. coordinator for Tibet. But the focus for many in China, Tibet and the United States is the president's decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama until after Obama visits Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing in November.
The Dalai Lama has met with the past three sitting U.S. presidents during his visits to Washington. But this week's trip comes at a delicate time for a new U.S. administration looking to improve relations with Beijing and win Chinese support for crucial foreign policy, economic and environmental goals.
Although China calls him a "wolf in monk's robes" who seeks to split Tibet from the rest of China, the Dalai Lama says he merely wants genuine autonomy for Tibetans.
Those who advocate for Tibet see the Dalai Lama's White House visits as important messages of support for Tibetans and others struggling for human rights. A White House audience for the Nobel Peace laureate this week, however, would have cast a shadow over Obama's talks with Hu next month.
"You only get one chance to start this the right way," Douglas Paal, a former senior Asia adviser for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said of Obama's relationship with Hu.
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