WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama thanked the Dalai Lama yesterday for offering condolences after 49 people were killed in the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, as the pair once again angered China by meeting at the White House.
It was Obama’s fourth White House meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, whom Beijing accuses of leading a campaign to split the region off from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he simply wants a higher degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.
China condemned the meeting after the White House listed it on Obama’s public schedule. It was closed to news media coverage, but the White House released on its Flickr account a photo of the two men greeting each other.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama has “warm personal feelings” toward the Dalai Lama, 80, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
On Monday, the Dalai Lama led a minute of silent prayer for the shooting victims during a visit to the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.
Obama is to visit Orlando today to pay tribute and meet with the victims’ loved ones.