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U.S. Rejects China Demand To Cancel Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and the Dalai Lama (file photos)
WASHINGTON -- The United States has rejected demands from China that a planned meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, be canceled.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama would go forward as planned on February 18.

Earlier on February 12, the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that the U.S. cancel Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying such a meeting could further damage already strained China-U.S. ties.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibet's independence from China -- something the Dalai Lama denies.

The issue is among several that have been adding tensions recently to U.S.-Chinese ties, the others including a planned U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, trade disputes, and U.S. support for Internet firm Google amid allegations of Chinese hacking attacks on the company's e-mail service.

compiled from agency reports