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Bush Meets with Dalai Lama, Despite Chinese Opposition - 2003-09-10

President Bush has held talks at the White House with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in a meeting opposed by Chinese officials.

The Dalai Lama described his talks Wednesday with Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday as "very useful."

China's official Xinhua news agency quotes a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman as saying Beijing has urged the United States not to allow the Dalai Lama to meet with U-S leaders.

A White House spokesman announced the formal meeting between Mr. Bush and the Dalai Lama about one hour before it took place.

The United States has welcomed a recent renewal of contact between the Dalai Lama's representatives and Chinese officials after almost a decade-long impasse.

The Dalai Lama today described the renewed contact as a "good start," but said serious discussions may take some time.

The exiled leader, who is on a 21-day visit to the United States, says President Bush and Secretary Powell have expressed a "genuine" interest in the Tibetan situation.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against China.