Is meeting them in a group something that you'd be interested in?
Meeting someone as part of a group with a common interest is a way to focus on those shared interests, and not meeting them alone would help reduce any tension or expectations (though not eliminate them completely).
Meetings not explicitly focused on a common interest but with people from a common background could be fine as well. For example, if you're meeting with some colleagues and this person works in the same industry, they already have something to talk about with the rest of the group, and a way to integrate with them.
Ultimately this doesn't eliminate all thoughts about a romantic interest, but it could be a way to start building a relationship with this person until you feel comfortable enough to deal with this subject directly. Also, once you've told them you only want them as a friend, this (or emphasis on this) can help reaffirm that notion without becoming insistent (I agree with LordHieros that insistence could be negatively interpreted)
I have done this on a couple of occasions, albeit only once when there was "risk" of a romantic interest. Mostly it was with acquaintances from work whom I wanted to befriend, but I felt it would be kind of weird to just invite them to grab a beer just the two of us (I don't think it would have been romantic, since it happened with heterosexual colleagues of my same sex and who know I'm heterosexual, just a bit weird), so in those cases I invited other colleagues whom I was already friends with, and we all meshed together quite nicely. It helps that I work in IT, and we IT people literally can't sit together without talking about IT (like the inverse of the fight club rule).
Specifically on the occasion when some romantic or sexual interest on my part could have been inferred, I already had a friend in common with this person, so I asked my friend over and told them to bring their friend, since I found that person very interesting. I also invited a couple of friends of mine who weren't friends with neither the person I was interested in nor my other friend, but I figured we could find many things in common. The person I was interested in didn't feel more out of place than the others, because they weren't sitting in a group of strangers who all knew each other, but rather everyone at the table had at least two people who they didn't know. In the end I didn't need to clarify anything to the person in question, and one of my other friends went for them and they ended up dating for a couple of months (my friend did ask if I was cool with it before asking the other person out, but saying "I'm not romantically interested in that other person" is hardly the same as saying "I'm not romantically interested in you").
If you can't have someone else bring this person you're interested in, you can still invite them yourself, but I think it's important that they know someone there other than you and that not all people know each other except that person.