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Washington - President Barack Obama will meet Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama later this year, the White House said on Tuesday, but denied the US leader was kowtowing to Beijing by visiting China first.
Obama has faced claims that he succumbed to Chinese pressure, after the Dalai Lama this week made his first visit to Washington in nearly two decades without a presidential meeting.
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied that Obama had been keen to avoid annoying China, before his first visit to Beijing as president in November.
"There was an agreement to do this later in the year," Gibbs told reporters.
The spokesman also denied that Washington was prioritizing China's interests over those of the exiled Tibetan community by waiting until after Obama had visited China to meet the Dalai Lama.
"Our strong relationship with China helps them," Gibbs said, referring to the Tibetan community.
It was the first time since 1991, when the globetrotting Dalai Lama held his first presidential meeting with George HW Bush, that the White House has declined talks with the Nobel Peace laureate. - Sapa-AFP