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Senior US lawmakers ignored warnings from China and met with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in Washington on Thursday, praising him as an example to humanity.
Senior U.S. lawmakers ignored warnings from China and met with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in Washington on Thursday, praising him as an example to humanity.
Beijing says the diminutive monk is a terrorist intent on tearing China apart and condemned his "underhand visit" to Washington, warning the United States to "abide by its promises" on the issue of Chinese territorial integrity.
But politicians from both sides of the bitter U.S. political divide set aside their budget debate to express their "solidarity" with the Dalai Lama as freedom fighter and human rights campaigner, according to AFP news agency.
House Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers spoke to the spiritual leader about "our shared values not just in Tibet and China, but in the Middle East as well."
"His example humbles nations such as ours that work to spread freedom, tolerance and respect for human dignity," he said at a press conference with fellow lawmakers including top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
"We extend to you, Your Holiness, on behalf of the people we serve, our solidarity, our support and our hope that you will come back soon."
Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a vocal critic of the Chinese government, urged President Barack Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama, saying it was an "opportunity to make a strong statement about what we stand for."
Obama met the monk last year but the White House has not indicated whether they would meet again during the Dalai Lama's current visit.
The Dalai Lama is in Washington for around two weeks to lead a Buddhist ceremony called the Kalachakra.
China believes the visit is a deceitful bid to "engage in activities to split the motherland," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, according to Reuters.
"At the same time, we also oppose any foreign government or politicians supporting or abetting in such activities by the Dalai Lama," he added.
"We hope that the United States strictly abide by its promises on the Tibet issue and ... cautiously and appropriately deal with relevant issues."