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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Bush-Dalai Lama talks anger China
The Dalai Lama is greeted on arrival in Washington
The Dalai Lama is due to receive an award from Congress
US President George W Bush has met the Dalai Lama, despite strong objections from the Chinese government.

It was the third meeting in six years between the president and the 72-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader.

On Wednesday, Mr Bush will attend a ceremony at the US Capitol where the Dalai Lama will receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the top US civilian award.

A Chinese spokesman has urged the US "to correct the mistakes and to cancel the arrangements".

A White House spokeswoman said Mr Bush understood Beijing's concerns, but "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 peace", she said.

The meeting took place in the White House residence rather than the Oval Office, out of deference to China.

'Brutal interference'

Chinese officials in Tibet expressed fury at the announcement of the Congressional award.

Tibet's Communist Party Secretary of Tibet, Zhang Qingli, accused the exiled spiritual leader of trying to "split the motherland".

"We are furious," he said. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world."

Asked by journalists after the meeting to comment on China's reaction, the Buddhist leader said: "That always happens".

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Beijing has long argued the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is seeking to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama insists he wants "real autonomy", not independence for the region, which China claims has been its territory for centuries, and which it has ruled since communist forces invaded in 1951.

Human rights concerns

The Dalai Lama's arrival in Washington on Monday was greeted by a crowd of singing and dancing Tibetans dressed in traditional robes.

The Dalai Lama meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Last month's meeting with Angela Merkel angered China

Recently, world leaders have grown more vocal in their concern for human rights in Tibet.

In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met the Dalai Lama, incurring Beijing's wrath.

The historic Berlin meeting prompted China to withdraw from a German-Chinese symposium scheduled to be held in Munich and to cancel an annual event due to be held in Beijing in December to discuss human rights.

The Dalai Lama has also met Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Australian Prime Minister John Howard this year, and is due to meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper later this month.

China was outraged when Canada granted the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship last year.

Communist Party spokesman condemns US 'interference'

Bush pledges Dalai Lama meeting
12 Oct 07 |  Europe
Tibet: Your questions answered
20 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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