President Barack Obama breaks a precedent of not meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama during his five-day trip to Washington, but intends to meet the exiled leader sometime in December after his November Summit with Chinese president Hu Jintao.

We have made clear that the president absolutely intends to meet the Dalai Lama, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Dalai Lama had begun his visit to the U.S. capital on October 5-10. It is the first time since 1991 the Tibetan leader has visited Washington without meeting with the sitting president.

President Obama has long been a strong and consistent supporter of greater cultural, linguistic and religious rights and autonomy for the Tibetan people, the official added.

The administration is actively working to encourage a resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and Dalai Lama's representatives in the hopes of making substantive and enduring progress, he said.

U.S. officials would only say a meeting would take place soon after the summit, no details about the meeting.

When Asked if the decision not to meet the Dalai Lama signaled a change in U.S. policy toward China and Tibet, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said: I wouldn't necessarily read ... anything into the decision beyond what it is.

Kelly also said the administration wanted to engage China as an important global player but would not downplay disagreements over human rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression.

China sent its troops into Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama fled to India a few years later to establish a government in exile.

Negotiations between China and the Dalai Lama's envoys were suspended last year, provoking violence in Tibet.