US lawmakers urge Obama to receive Dalai Lama

June 2, 2011 - 2:57 PM
India Dalai Lama

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gestures as he leaves after inaugurating a new building that will house the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharmsala, India, Thursday, June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some U.S. lawmakers are urging President Barack Obama to welcome the Dalai Lama at the White House when he visits Washington next month.

Representatives from both parties made the appeal Thursday during a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The hearing was marked by criticism of China, which opposes any contact between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders.

Obama didn't receive the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader when he visited Washington in October 2009. He did meet with him at the White House four months later, in an off-camera, low-key fashion.

The committee chairwoman, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, described the White House's treatment of the Dalai Lama as shameful.

She strongly encouraged Obama to "pay the proper respect that this leader deserves."

China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist.