By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 6 (IANS) President Barack Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama during his US tour this month, the State Department said Monday contradicting a media report the White House had postponed their meeting in an attempt to gain favour with China.
"The United States government thinks that he is an internationally revered religious and cultural figure, he is a Nobel Prize laureate," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
"The president has decided that he will meet with the Dalai Lama at a mutually agreeable time."
The Washington Post had reported Monday that US pressured Tibetan representatives to postpone the Dalai Lama's meeting with the President until after Obama's summit next month with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao.
Citing diplomats, government officials and other sources familiar with the talks, the influential said the US decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China.
The strategy, it said also includes soft-pedalling criticism of China's human rights and financial policies as well as backing efforts to elevate China's position in international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the Post said.
Obama administration officials have termed the new policy "strategic reassurance", which entails the US government taking steps to convince China that it is not out to contain the emerging Asian power, it said.
Since 1991, the Dalai Lama has been here 10 times and each times he has met the President. Most times the meetings have been "drop-in" visits at the White House.
The last time he was here, in 2007, however, George W. Bush became the first sitting president to meet with him publicly, at a ceremony at the Capitol in which he awarded the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest civilian award.