The Dalai Lama and President Bush

The Dalai Lama is welcomed to the White House by President Bush on September 10, 2003. (White House)

The White House announced on November 8, 2005 that President Bush will be meeting the Dalai Lama today. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan gave a press briefing in which he said, “Tomorrow the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the White House.” McClellan said that they will be talking about Tibet.

President Bush and the Dalai Lama had met earlier in May 2001 and in September 2003. Following is the relevant excerpt from the White House press briefing.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 8, 2005

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

QUESTION: You may have noticed that The Washington Post, The Financial Times have had reports about a human rights lawyer in Beijing whose office was forced to close down because he wrote an open letter to the Chinese leader asking them to stop the persecution of Falun Gong spiritual movement in China. Since President Bush is going to Asia next week, do you think this is some issue he will address?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President had some interviews earlier today. I would encourage you to look at those interviews because one of the topics he talked about was human rights. That is something we talk about publicly and privately as a high priority for this President. We have always made the promotion of human rights and human dignity at the top — always put it at the top of our agenda. And that’s what we will continue to do.

And, yes, the President will continue to talk openly and candidly with leaders he meets with, including when he goes to China, about the importance of freedom of religion for instance.

Tomorrow the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the White House. He’s met with him on a number of occasions before, and they will talk about issues relating to Tibet. And you bet when the President goes to Asia next week, he will continue to talk about the importance of promoting human rights and human dignity for all. We have an obligation — all of us in the world have an obligation to speak out about human rights. And where those human rights are being undermined, we have a right to speak out about them in places that the — in countries that the President has talked about before.