Obama aides meet Dalai Lama


Dharamsala : Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to China, his aides in a meeting here Monday apprised Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the best way Americans could help resolve the Tibetan issue, an official said.

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“The officials met His Holiness at his official residence to apprise him on the best way the US could assist in the resolution of the Tibetan issue,” Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary at the Dalai Lama’s Office, told IANS.

The officials, led by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, briefed the Dalai Lama about the US approach to the issue. The meeting lasted for more than two hours.

“She (Jarrett) reiterated President Obama’s commitment to support the Tibetan people in protecting their distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage and securing respect for their human rights and civil liberties,” said an official statement of the Dalai Lama’s office.

“She said the president commends the Dalai Lama for being consistent in looking for a solution based on Tibetan autonomy with the People’s Republic of China.”

“The Dalai Lama updated Jarrett on the status of the dialogue process with the Chinese leadership, including the presentation of a comprehensive memorandum on Tibetan autonomy to the Chinese leadership during the eighth round of discussions in October-November 2008,” the statement said.

“She discussed with His Holiness the best way the US could assist in the resolution for the Tibetan issue, particularly in the light of the first visit by President Obama to China in November,” the release said.

The delegation, comprising US State Department Under Secretary Maria Otero, is the highest official-level group to visit this town since March 2008 when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to meet the Buddhist monk.

The delegation met Tibetan-government-in-exile’s Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama’s special envoy Lodi Gyari here Sunday.

The spiritual guru is scheduled to visit the US next month.

“His holiness is going to the US where he is invited and it won’t be unusual if he meets Obama. As of now, no meeting is scheduled between them,” Sonam N. Dagpo, secretary of international relations Tibetan government-in-exile, told IANS.

“He had met Obama before he became president. He has also met many former US presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush,” said Dagpo.

The Chinese government has stepped up pressure on foreign governments that receive visits from the spiritual leader. It has already reacted angrily to a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Obama, saying the meeting would sour Sino-US relations.

Sources in the Dalai Lama’s Office said that modalities regarding the proposed meeting between the Buddhist monk and the US president “are being worked out during the visit of Obama aides”.

Dharamsala is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is not recognised by any country in the world.

A total of 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.