His Holiness the Dalai Lama and President George W. Bush

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets with US President George W. Bush in the White House in Washington, DC on November 9, 2005. (White House)

US President Bush welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House this afternoon, and expressed his strong support for the Dalai Lama’s efforts to find a negotiated solution with the Chinese leadership. The Dalai Lama mentioned to the President that he felt it was a “reunion of old friends”.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama was extremely pleased with the meetings and deeply appreciated the warm reception he received from the President and First Lady, whom he considers as friends,” said Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy.

The Dalai Lama briefed the President on the current status of the dialogue process with Beijing, sharing his optimism as well as some of his concerns about the evolving situation in Tibet. President Bush, who is meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao during his visit to Beijing from November 19 to 20, 2005, is expected to raise with the Chinese leader the issue of starting serious talks with the Dalai Lama.

“The Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner as China deals with the difficult challenges of regional and national stability,” said President Bush in his report to Congress on Tibet in April this year. “He represents the views of the vast majority of Tibetans and his moral authority helps to unite the Tibetan community inside and outside of China. China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interest of both the Chinese Government and the Tibetan people. At the same time, the lack of resolution of these problems leads to greater tensions inside China and will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and other nations,” the report said.

The report continues, “Encouraging substantive dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama is an important objective of this Administration. The United States encourages China and the Dalai Lama to hold direct and substantive discussions aimed at resolution of differences at an early date, without preconditions. The Administration believes that dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives will alleviate tensions in Tibetan areas and contribute to the overall stability of China.”

The meeting was attended by the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs and Democracy and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Paula Dobriansky, and Director for Asian Affairs Michael Green. First Lady Laura Bush also joined the President in welcoming the Dalai Lama. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the meeting, and later received the Dalai Lama at the State Department.

The Dalai Lama was accompanied by Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, Representative for the Americas Tashi Wangdi and Secretary Tenzin N. Taklha. The meeting was immediately followed by a meeting at the State Department with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Dalai Lama arrived in Washington DC on Monday (November 7) for a ten-day visit incorporating meetings at the White House, State Department and with key Congressional leaders, participation in a conference with scientists, and an address to the Society for Neuro-science.