China on Wednesday expressed its firm opposition to foreign leaders' contact with the Dalai Lama, days after a key aide to Barack Obama said the US President would be ready to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader "at an appropriate time."
"China firmly opposes foreign leaders' and officials' contact with the Dalai Lama. Our position on this issue is consistent and clear," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
He was reacting to remarks by Jeffrey Bader, the US National Security Council's Senior Director for East Asian Affairs, who earlier this week said that Obama, during his upcoming visit to China, will make it clear to his counterpart Hu Jintao that he intends to meet the Dalai Lama in the future.
Obama, whose nine-day trip to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea begins tomorrow, will likely raise the Tibet issue when he visits Beijing next week and will meet the Dalai Lama "at an appropriate time," Bader had said in Washington.
Earlier, China objected to the Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. It said yesterday that it was "strongly dissatisfied" with the Dalai Lama being allowed to visit "disputed" Arunachal Pradesh but India refused to join issue with it and hoped the "rhetoric" will end with the culmination of the Tibetan leader's trip.