Washington, United States (AFP) — US President Barack Obama will appear in public at an event attended by the Dalai Lama next week in Washington, the White House said Friday, in a move sure to anger Beijing.
“The president will deliver remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast about the importance of upholding religious freedom,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
“This year, the organizers also invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
The White House stressed the two men have met three times before and did not announce a “specific meeting” between them.
Previous meetings have been held behind closed doors, in a move designed to limit the offense caused to China.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule and has lived in exile in India ever since.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to split Tibet from the rest of China and of fomenting unrest in the region.
Obama is expected to talk about the importance of upholding religious freedom at Thursday’s event.
“The President is a strong supporter of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and preserving Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions,” said Meehan.
“As he has done in the past, the President will see many religious leaders at the event, but we don’t have any specific meeting with the Dalai Lama to announce.”