His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be visiting the White House on Saturday at the invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The meeting in the White House Map Room is expected to last at least 30 minutes, and will be closed to the news media.
“The president will highlight his enduring support for dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences,” the White House said in a statement.
“This meeting underscores the president’s strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans,” it said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement on the ministry’s website: “We firmly oppose any senior foreign government officials meeting with the Dalai Lama in any way.”
Hong said China called on the United States to ‘cancel the decision for Obama to meet the Dalai Lama as soon as possible, and not do anything that could interfere with China’s internal affairs or harm China-U.S. relations’.
The Dalai Lama who is in the nation’s capital for the Kalachakra initiations last week met top U.S. lawmakers including John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry.
The president last met with the Nobel Peace laureate in February 2010, then also employing a low-key approach by setting the meeting in the White House Map Room, not the Oval Office, which is reserved for visiting heads of states.