Thursday, February 18, 2010

FP morning post 2/18

Dalai Lama to meet with Obama as Beijing grumbles

Top story: After weeks of anticipation and amid growing tension between the United States and China, U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama today at the White House. A previous planned meeting between the two last fall had been canceled in the run-up to Obama's trip to China.

As with previous visits, the White House is taking steps to make clear that the Dalai Lama is being received as an "internationally respected religious leader and spokesman for Tibetan rights" rather than a head of state. The meeting will take place in the Map Room of the White House rather than the Oval Office, advisors will be present, and there will be no joint press conference afterward.

These gestures, intended to avoid unnecessarily offending China, appear to have done little to placate Beijing officials already irritated by a recent U.S. arms deal with Taiwan and a fight over Web censorship with search engine Google. "It will seriously undermine the Sino-U.S. political relations," Zhu Weiqun, a senior Communist Party leader in charge of ethnic and religious affairs, said. Zhu promised "corresponding action" in response.

Tibetans set off a defiant show of fireworks near the Dalai Lama's birthplace in northwest China to celebrate the meeting.

The Dalai Lama's visit comes at the same time the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier is making a stop in Hong Kong. Following the Taiwan arms deal, China had promised to scale back military cooperation with the United States and the visit is being scrutinized for indicators. While the Nimitz has been allowed to dock, Chinese military officials have largely skipped the ceremonies and official events that usually accompany these visits.

Environment: U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer will step down following the disappointing attempt to reach a global climate agreement in Copenhagen.

Middle East
-By Joshua Keating


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