Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, set off today to visit the United States for a 10 day tour which will include a much anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama. “Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary in the Dalai Lama's office, told IANS that the Dalai Lama would spend 10 days in the US. The highlight of the trip would be the meeting with the Obama. ‘We view the meeting as an expression of American concern for the Tibetan cause,’ Taklha said. The Dalai Lama would fly to New Delhi Tuesday evening and depart for the US Wednesday morning, he said. US authorities have vowed to go ahead with the meeting despite China's stern warning that Sino-US relations would be damaged if American leaders meet the Dalai Lama. US presidents normally meet VIPs and visiting government heads in the Oval office but past presidents have avoided meeting the Dalai Lama in the room. Obama avoided meeting the Dalai Lama ahead of a visit to China last year in an apparent bid to set relations with Beijing on a good footing in the first year of presidency that included meetings with President Hu Jintao. The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 and has lived in India since then, has met Obama before he became president.”