Obama under fire for not meeting Dalai Lama

US lawmakers and human rights activists on Saturday sharply criticized President Barack Obama for not meeting the Dalai Lama.

Updated: Jul 16, 2011, 10:27 AM IST

Washington: US lawmakers and human rights activists on Saturday sharply criticized President Barack Obama for not meeting the Dalai Lama, accusing him of bowing to Chinese pressure to shun the Tibetan leader.

Obama met the Dalai Lama last year but it appeared unlikely he would meet him on the monk`s latest visit to Washington. Obama is engrossed in talks on the US debt and the Dalai Lama closes his nearly two-week trip, in which he led thousands in a Buddhist ritual, on Saturday.

"It`s deeply disappointing that the president caved to Chinese pressure not to meet with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is an esteemed world leader and a Nobel laureate," said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"China undermines US interests at every turn. This sends another negative message that this administration will allow itself to be pushed around by rogue regimes," said Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the rival Republican Party.

US lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner, Ros-Lehtinen and top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi welcomed the Dalai Lama to the Capitol on July 7, voicing solidarity with the spiritual leader who has lived in exile since 1959.

Maria Otero, a senior State Department official who handles Tibet policy, also met the Dalai Lama and voiced support for "preservation of Tibet`s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity" and "protection of human rights."

PTI