WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama hosted the Dalai Lama at the White House Wednesday a now familiar ritual that took place off camera and out of the public eye to avoid irking China.
Obama carried out what has become a political rite in Washington spiriting the exiled Tibetan religious leader into the White House through the back door and prompting the usual Chinese denunciations.
Since coming to office Obama has now hosted the Dalai Lama four times.
Each time Obama has tried to limit the fallout by holding the meeting behind closed doors.
This latest confab took place in the Map Room not the Oval Office and the press was not invited meaning images of the two Nobel peace laureates would not be flashed around the world.
The 80 year old Buddhist monk did not appear to enter the White House through the usual West Wing entrance which is the route for most although not all high profile visitors.
The personal nature of their meeting would explain why the president received the Dalai Lama in the White House residence as opposed to the Oval Office for example said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
Even before the meeting Beijing made its displeasure felt warning it would damage mutual trust and cooperation.
China s foreign ministry has launched solemn representations with the US side expressing our firm opposition to such an arrangement foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters.
Lu added that the meeting would send a wrong signal to the separatist forces seeking Tibet independence.
Obama calls the monk who is revered by Tibetans but portrayed by Beijing as a dangerous separatist a good friend.
He made a high profile public appearance with the Dalai Lama last year at a prayer breakfast in Washington calling him a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion.
But Obama was criticized in 2010 for obliging the 80 year old clad in his characteristic red robes and flip flops to leave the White House through a back door and walk past piles of snow and bags of rubbish.