President George W. Bush greeted the Dalai Lama and pledged strong support for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's efforts to establish dialogue with the Chinese government.
The Dalai Lama's visit follows a stopover by Taiwan's president. China slammed both events.
China regards Tibet as part of its traditional territory and sees the Dalai Lama as a supporter of Tibetan independence.
The Dalai Lama said he told Mr. Bush he is seeking "genuine self-rule" as "a mutually equitable solution" for Tibet and China, and the president shared that approach.
"I assured to him that in the future, whenever the president has an opportunity to meet with the Chinese leader, he can assure the Chinese government I'm not seeking independence," the Dalai Lama said.
He said Mr. Bush showed him "very genuine, human, warm feelings. That I very much appreciate."
Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama's special envoy, said the spiritual leader stressed that there would be "dangerous consequences to the Tibetan identity" if China's policies toward Tibet go unchanged, and felt encouraged by the reception he received from the Bush administration.
After the meeting, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer issued a statement saying Mr. Bush "declared his strong support for the Dalai Lama's tireless efforts to initiate a dialogue with the Chinese government," and promised to support preserving the "unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity, and the protection of the human rights of all Tibetans."
"The president said he would seek ways to encourage dialogue, and expressed his hope that the Chinese government would respond favorably," Fleischer said.
But in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed anger over Wednesday's meeting. Luo Gan, the Communist Party's top cadre for law and order, told a meeting of officials in Beijing that the Dalai Lama is "traveling further and further down the separatist road," state television reported.
In a nod to China, the White House emphasized that Mr. Bush was receiving the Dalai Lama as a religious and not a political leader. The two, along with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, met in the White House residence, rather than the Oval or other West Wing offices.
The Dalai Lama met with Secretary of State Colin Powell Tuesday, reports CBS News State Department Reporter Charles Wolfson, also in his capacity as a religious figure.
China on Tuesday accused the United States of breaking its promises by allowing a visit by Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian's to New York.
Taiwanese media reported that Chen met with 21 congressmen on Monday evening. The group of lawmakers included Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., according to the reports filed by Taiwanese reporters traveling with the president.
Learn more about U.S. relations with China.
"This act violates the commitments that the U.S. side has made," Zhu told reporters. "This act will inevitably harm China-U.S. relations. And the harm done is not something that we would like to see. It is something done by the U.S. side."
Beijing sees Taiwan as a province lost amid civil war in 1949. Chinese officials believe granting Taiwan's presidents visiting rights violates the U.S. one-China policy, which recognizes only one Chinese government, the mainland, but insists that unification must be done peacefully.
China has particularly pressured the United States not to allow Taiwanese presidents to visit New York City for fear that such trips could pump up Taiwanese pride and encourage the island to seek independence. A visit to New York is considered significant because it's the home of the United Nations and a financial and media center.
Adoption of the one-China policy paved the way for the United States and the mainland to open diplomatic relations in the late 1970s after decades of Washington refusing to recognize the communist mainland government. But Mr. Bush's administration decided to allow Chen to visit until Wednesday before he travels to Latin America.
Last year, during a transit stop in Los Angeles, Chen remained mostly in his hotel, and the Clinton administration discouraged members of Congress from visiting him.
The visits come amid a souring of relations. After the April 1 collision of a U.S. spy plane and Chinese jet, Mr. Bush outraged Beijing by agreeing to sell Taiwan submarines and other advanced weapons. Washington has condemned a string of arrests of U.S. citizens and permanent residents of Chinese descent, and China has rejected plans for an American national missile defense.
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