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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Bush to meet privately next week with Dalai Lama

October 17, 2007

WASHINGTON, October 11, (AFP) — US President George W. Bush will meet
 privately on October 16 with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai
 Lama, the White House announced Thursday, despite the risk of angering

Bush will meet with the Dalai Lama in a private part of his White House
 residence away from the prying eyes of the press, White House
 spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

The US leader has always met privately with the exiled Tibetan leader
 in the past, probably in a bid to lessen Beijing's fury at such a

The day after their meeting here Bush will attend a ceremony at which
 the Dalai Lama will receive the Congressional Gold Medal at Capitol

China hit out earlier Thursday at the US Congress's plan to award its
 highest civilian honor to the Dalai Lama, saying it had made "solemn
 representations" over the plan to the US administration.

"China resolutely opposes the US Congress's awarding of a so-called
 Congressional Gold Medal and firmly opposes any country and any person
 using the Dalai Lama issue to interfere in China's internal affairs,"
 foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

The congressional award is reserved for individuals who display the
 highest moral courage. Past recipients have included Pope John Paul II,
 Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino sought to downplay next week's
 meeting acknowledging that Bush "understands that the Chinese have concerns
 about this."

But the US president "believes that as a leader and as the president of
 the United States and someone who always attends a Congressional Gold
 Medal ceremony that he is going to go and he will proudly be there to
 witness the event," Perino said.

"We would hope that the Chinese leader would get to know the Dalai Lama
 as the president sees him, as a spiritual leader and someone who wants

The Dalai Lama "leads a movement that is aimed not only for
 independence from China, but for the rights of the Tibetan people," she said.

Although Bush has met privately before with the Dalai Lama, next week
 will mark the first time that a sitting US president will appear with
 him in a public event, diplomats in Washington said.

The ceremony comes after China warned Berlin that bilateral ties had
 been damaged following a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel
 and the Dalai Lama last month.

The religious leader also met Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer
 last month and Australian Prime Minister John Howard in June. He will meet
 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this month.

The Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was earlier this
 year named a distinguished professor at Emory University in Atlanta,
 Georgia -- the first time he has accepted a university appointment.

He is to deliver an inaugural lecture during an October 20-22 visit to
 the university, which has a prominent Tibetan studies program.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 and set up a Tibetan government in
 exile in Dharamsala, India after China crushed an uprising against its

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