U.S. Presidential Statements on meetings with the Dalai Lama, 1991-2014

 Pres. Obama  |  Pres. George W. Bush  |  Pres. Clinton  |  Pres. George H.W. Bush

President Barack Obama – February 21, 2014
Readout of the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach. The President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. In this context, the President reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government will resume. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and constructive relationship between the United States and China.

View on www.whitehouse.gov »

 

President Barack Obama – July 16, 2011
Statement from the Press Secretary on the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the “Middle Way” approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume.

 

President Barack Obama – February 18, 2010
Statement from the Press Secretary on the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.

President George W. Bush – October 17, 2007
Transcript, President Bush addresses Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Madam Speaker; and Senator Byrd; Mr. Leader; members of the congressional delegation, particularly Senators Feinstein and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Senator Thomas – God rest his soul – distinguished guests, particularly our friend, Elie Wiesel; and Your Holiness.

Over the years, Congress has conferred the Gold Medal on many great figures in history – usually at a time when their struggles were over and won. Today Congress has chosen to do something different. It has conferred this honor on a figure whose work continues – and whose outcome remains uncertain. In so doing, America raises its voice in the call for religious liberty and basic human rights. These values forged our Republic. They sustained us through many trials. And they draw us by conviction and conscience to the people of Tibet and the man we honor today.

Nearly two decades have passed since the Dalai Lama was welcomed to the White House for the very first time. Members of both of our political parties and world leaders have seen His Holiness as a man of faith and sincerity and peace. He’s won the respect and affection of the American people—and America has earned his respect and affection, as well.

As a nation, we are humbled to know that a young boy in Tibet – as a young boy in Tibet, His Holiness kept a model of the Statue of Liberty at his bedside. Years later, on his first visit to America, he went to Battery Park in New York City so he could see the real thing up close. On his first trip to Washington, he walked through the Jefferson Memorial – a monument to the man whose words launched a revolution that still inspires men and women across the world. Jefferson counted as one of America’s greatest blessings the freedom of worship. It was, he said, “a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government, and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.”

The freedom of belief is a yearning of the human spirit, a blessing offered to the world, and a cherished value of our nation. It’s the very first protection offered in the American Bill of Rights. It inspired many of the leaders that this rotunda honors in portraits and marble. And it still defines our way of life.

Consider where we gather today. This great symbol of democracy sits quietly near a Catholic parish, a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim community center, a Greek Orthodox cathedral, and a Buddhist temple – each with faithful followers who practice their deeply held beliefs and live side by side in peace. This diversity is not a source of instability – it’s a source of strength. This freedom does not belong to one nation – it belongs to the world.

One of the tragic anomalies of the past century is that in an era that has seen an unprecedented number of nations embrace individual freedom has also witnessed the stubborn endurance of religious repression. American cannot look to the plight of the religiously oppressed and close our eyes or turn away. And that is why I will continue to urge the leaders of China to welcome the Dalai Lama to China. They will find this good man to be a man of peace and reconciliation.

Throughout our history, we have stood proudly with those who offer a message of hope and freedom to the world’s downtrodden and oppressed. This is why all of us are drawn to a noble and spiritual leader who lives a world away. Today we honor him as a universal symbol of peace and tolerance, a shepherd for the faithful, and the keeper of the flame for his people.

I congratulate His Holiness on this recognition. I’m so honored to be here with you, sir. Laura and I join all Americans in offering the people of Tibet our fervent prayer that they may find days of prosperity and peace.

And now I ask the Speaker and Senator Byrd to join me for the Gold Medal presentation.

 

President George W. Bush – October 16, 2007
The White House chose to keep the meeting on the 16th private, and did not release any statement or photo. The following is an excerpt from the transcript of the October 16, 2007 press briefing as it concerns His Holiness:

MS. PERINO: President Bush has attended the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor ceremonies. The most recent one that I can remember was the Tuskegee Airmen event that he attended. I think that was earlier this year. And he told President Hu when we were at APEC in Sydney that he would be attending this one, as well. And he is going to be proud to do so. He believes that the Dalai Lama is a strong spiritual leader, and he will have a private meeting with him today, and then he’ll attend tomorrow’s Gold Medal ceremony. And, as I told you, he told President Hu that he would and he’ll be proud to do so tomorrow.

As I understand it, the Dalai Lama wants not for — he’s not calling for independence from China. He’s asking for the people there to have ability to — the freedom to practice their religion. And the United States supports him as a great spiritual leader. He should be honored as a spiritual leader. But we are not asking for independence from the country.

I don’t know his specific language that he uses, but we do not support a separate country from China.

I think that what the President would believe is that people are going to look at this meeting in several different ways, and it’s almost taking on a life of its own. The President has met with the Dalai Lama before. He is a great spiritual leader. The President wants to meet with him. The President believes that people all over the world should be able to express their religion and practice their religion in freedom. And that’s why the President wants to meet with him. He believes he should be honored as a great spiritual leader.

 

President George W. Bush – November 9, 2005
Transcript from White House Press Briefing on November 9, 2005

MR. McCLELLAN: …Then following that, the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, back to the White House. They will be meeting with His Holiness over in the Residence. This is the third meeting that the President has had here at the White House with His Holiness…We’ve spoken out very clearly about our views on Tibet, as well, as the people of Tibet.

 

President George W. Bush – September 10, 2003
White House Statement on His Holiness’ Meeting with President Bush

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. Earlier today, the President met with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, you heard from the Dalai Lama outside. This was their second meeting to discuss Tibet. The President reiterated our strong commitment to support the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity, and the protection of the human rights of all Tibetans.

The President also declared his strong support for the Dalai Lama’s commitment to the dialogue with China. The President said he would seek ways to encourage China to continue dialogue on a substantive basis, and expressed his hope that the Chinese government would respond favorably. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of strong and constructive U.S.-China relations.

 

President George W. Bush – May 23, 2001
Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, met at the White House this morning with the President and the National Security Advisor to discuss Tibet. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and declared his strong support for the Dalai Lama’s tireless efforts to initiate a dialogue with the Chinese government. The President said he would seek ways to encourage dialogue and expressed his hope that the Chinese government would respond favorably. The President also reiterated the strong commitment of the United States to support the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity and the protection of the human rights of all Tibetans. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of strong and constructive U.S.-China relations.

President Bill Clinton – June 20, 2000
Statement by the Press Secretary, Meeting with the Dalai Lama

His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, met at the White House this afternoon with the President and the National Security Advisor to discuss Tibet. The President welcomed the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and declared his strong support for the Dalai Lama’s steadfast efforts to initiate dialogue and expressed his hope that the Chinese government will respond favorably. The President pledged his continued support for the Dalai Lama’s effort to encourage dialogue and expressed his hope that the Chinese government will respond favorably. The President reiterated the strong commitment of the Unite States to support preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage and to the protection of human rights of Tibetans. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of strong and constructive U.S.-China relations.

 

President Bill Clinton – November 10, 1998
Statement by the Press Secretary, Meeting with the Dalai Lama

His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, was welcomed at the White House this afternoon where he met with the President, the Vice President, and the First Lady to discuss Tibet. President Clinton expressed his strong support for efforts to foster a dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives to resolve differences. The President welcomed the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and his efforts to initiate a dialogue with the Chinese Government. The President reiterated the strong commitment of the United States to support preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and to protection of the human rights of Tibetans. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of strong U.S.-China relations.

 

President Bill Clinton – April 23, 1997
Statement by the Press Secretary, Meeting with the Dalai Lama

His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, was welcomed at the White House this afternoon where he met with the President and Vice President to discuss issues concerning Tibet and China. President Clinton expressed his continuing concern for the preservation of Tibetan religion and culture.

The United States continues to urge high-level talks between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve differences. The President and the Vice President welcomed the Dalai Lama’s commitment to non-violence and to negotiations with China. The Dalai Lama concurred on the need for strong U.S.-China relations.

 

President Bill Clinton – April 27, 1993
Statement by the Press Secretary, President Meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Praises Renowned Spiritual and Moral Leader

WASHINGTON – The President and Vice President met today (4/27) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and discussed issues relating to Tibet.

“The Dalai Lama is internationally revered for his spiritual and moral leadership,” the President said. “As a Nobel Peace Prize winner and committed advocate of nonviolent change and resolution of disputes, I deeply appreciated hearing the Dalai Lama’s views on the situation in China, including Tibet. The Administration continues to urge Beijing and the Dalai Lama to revive a dialogue between them and presses China to address human rights abuses in Tibet.”

President George H. W. Bush – April 17, 1991
Excerpt from transcript from the April 17 press briefing

MR. FITZWATER: Okay, moving on to the Dalai Lama. The President met with him for about a half an hour last evening (4/16). They discussed the general situation in Tibet.

The US has never recognized an independent Tibet. We have, however, repeatedly raised our concerns over human rights abuses in that country — I mean in Tibet — with the Chinese government and we continue to urge the followers of the Dalai Lama and the Beijing government to resume a peaceful dialogue to resolve the problems between them.

The US also provides roughly a half million dollars a year in aid to Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India. In addition, the Voice of America has recently begun broadcasts in the Tibetan language. Several of you had asked about that meeting.

The Dalai Lama asked to meet with the President. He’s the religious leader of the country. The President felt it was appropriate to see him.

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