"I think China will send a strong message of protest publicly and privately, trying to warn President Obama to not go too far, because we still have a major, new relationship to build," said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Beijing's elite Tsinghua University.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed repeatedly that China wants to build "a new brand of relations between major powers", based on principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and cooperation.
In what appeared to be a small concession to the Chinese, Obama will see the Dalai Lama in the White House Map Room, a historically important room but of less significance than the Oval Office, the president's inner sanctum.
The United States recognizes Tibet as part of China and does not support Tibetan independence, but supports the Dalai Lama's approach for more autonomy, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
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"We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China," Hayden said.
In Tibetan regions of China, including four provinces outside Tibet, more than 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 in protest against Chinese rule. Most have died.
The White House views the Dalai Lama as "an internationally respected religious and cultural leader" and noted Obama had met him twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011.
"We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions," Hayden said in a statement announcing the 10 a.m.(1500 GMT) meeting.
The Dalai Lama was in Washington on Thursday, meeting the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization. In a speech there, he did not address the issue of Tibet, but stressed that there was a general need for "compassion, tolerance and forgiveness" in the world.
Communist Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1950. China says it "peacefully liberated" the remote region that it says was mired in poverty, exploitation and economic stagnation.
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Exiles and rights groups say China tramples on the religious, cultural and linguistic rights of Tibetans and enforces its rule using brutal methods.