President Barack Obama thanked the Dalai Lama on Wednesday for offering condolences after 49 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

It was Obama’s fourth White House meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader, whom Beijing accuses of leading a campaign to split the region 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, saying it would damage Chinese-US ties.

The meeting comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China over Beijing’s assertive pursuit of territorial claims in East Asia.

Whne Obama meet with the Dalai Lama in 2014 he had angered China when he vowed ‘strong support’ for Tibetans’ human rights.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had urged the US to abide by its promises to recognise that Tibet is part of China and cease any support for Tibet independence.

The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama told Reuters on Monday that Obama was ‘a long-time friend’ whom he admired for his work to normalise relations with Cuba, and on Iran, and for his recent visits to former US foe Vietnam and the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in Japan.

The meeting was closed to news media coverage, but the White House released on its Flickr account a photo by the president’s official photographer of the two men greeting each other.

Photo from Google.

Reuters

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President Barack Obama thanked the Dalai Lama on Wednesday for offering condolences after 49 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern US history. It was Obama's fourth White House meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader, whom Beijing accuses of leading a campaign to split...