Washington — A top aide to United States President Barack Obama on Monday held talks Monday with Tibet's spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and voiced support for a peaceful solution with China, officials said, in the first meeting between the two sides in months.
The Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is on a nine-day trip through North America, met in Atlanta with Maria Otero, the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs who serves as the US coordinator on Tibet.
A State Department official called it a "private discussion on issues of mutual interest" and reiterated the US view that Tibet is part of China.
"We do not support Tibetan independence. We strongly support dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve differences," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Tuesday's meeting between the Tibetan leader and Under Secretary Otero was the first occasion for high-level U.S. Government discussions directly with His Holiness in the United States since February 2010 when His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with President Obama at the White House.
Mindful of Chinese sensitivities, the White House did not allow media access to the meeting and said Obama was seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his capacity as a respected religious leader.
Lodi Gyari Gyaltsen, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's chief negotiator with China, said that the monk reiterated to Otero his "Middle Way" of working non-violently to improve the rights of Tibetans while staying under Chinese rule.
"Support for his efforts from the United States has been critical at many levels and His Holiness was very pleased to hear again from Under Secretary Otero that the Obama administration (supports) his Middle Way approach," he said.
Despite his professed support for the Middle Way, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is branded by China as a dangerous separatist. Beijing routinely protests foreign leaders' meetings with the Dalai Lama, who enjoys a wide global following.
Maria Otero was appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues on October 1, 2009. This was her fourth meeting with the Dalai Lama. Maria Otero follows in this position Paula J. Dobriansky (2001-2008) during the George W. Bush Administration, and Julia Vadala Taft (1999-2000) and Gregory B. Craig (1997-1998) during the Clinton Administration.