President Bush's decision to meet with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is drawing a protest from Chinese officials, who regard such contacts as meddling in China's internal affairs.
The Dalai Lama was making a return appearance on Capitol Hill Thursday, where he was given an enthusiastic reception on Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by the congressional Human Rights Caucus.China's ambassador met with Undersecretary of State Robert Kimmitt to register his concern about Bush's meeting Tuesday evening with the Dalai Lama, who has been touring the United States for three weeks.
The State Department reaffirmed on Wednesday that the United States considers Tibet to be an integral part of China. It also said that Bush's meeting with the exiled Buddhist leader was not politically motivated.
"We treat our dealings with the Dalai Lama with all the respect due to a major world religious figure and a Nobel Prize recipient," State Department press officer Nancy Beck said.
In response to China's complaints about the meeting, White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said, "We informed them we thought it was appropriate."