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Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, right, presents Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a Japi, a traditional Assamese hat, during the Festival of Tibet in Gauhati, India, on Feb. 2. The Dalai Lama inaugurated the five-day festival that began Sunday. / Anupam Nath, AP

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday, the Obama administration announced Thursday night.

The meeting is the third between Obama and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader since Obama has been in the White House.

The meeting will almost certainly draw a rebuke from China, which has regularly lashed out at world leaders for meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Ahead of the visit, the White House underscored that it continues to recognize Tibet as part of China, while at the same time raising concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Tibetan areas of China.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama will meet the Dalai Lama "in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader."

"The United States supports the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China," Hayden said in a statement. "We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions.

Obama met the Dalai Lama in February 2010 and July 2011. Past U.S. presidents of both parties over the past three decades have met with the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since 1959.

The Tibetan leader spoke at Washington think tank on Thursday and is also scheduled to visit Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Minneapolis during this visit to the United States.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

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