By Esra Kaymak
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. considers Tibet a part of China and does not support Tibetan independence, the White House said Wednesday hours after a meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.
"I would just reiterate once again that the U.S. position, as it relates to Tibet has not changed," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
"Tibet, per U.S. policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China. And the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence."
According to a White House readout of the meeting, Obama lauded the Tibetan spiritual leader’s "commitment to peace and nonviolence," expressing support for direct dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China.
Earnest said the Dalai Lama and Obama values the importance of a "constructive and productive relationship" between the U.S. and China.
"All of those were policy positions that the United States, before the meeting occurred, and our policy hasn't changed after the meeting," he said.
China’s foreign ministry warned the U.S. that such a meeting would damage diplomatic relations between the countries, the White House said.
According to China, the exiled Dalai Lama is a dangerous separatist.
Beijing contends that Tibet is part of China. On the other hand, the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile in India since 1959, argues that Tibet wants genuine autonomy not independence.
Following the Dalai Lama's visit to the White House in 2014, tensions between the U.S. and China increased after Obama vowed "strong support" for human rights in Tibet.
Earnest said Obama has spoken publicly about his warm, personal feelings for the Dalai Lama, he appreciates his teachings and that the president believes "in preserving Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions."
Due to the "personal nature" of their meeting, the president received the Dalai Lama at the White House residence and not at the oval office where Obama usually receives world leaders.
The Dalai Lama expressed condolences to the victims of the deadly shooting in Orlando on Sunday.