Obama should meet Chinese president first: Tibetan leader

By Mayank Aggarwal, IANS,

Dharamsala : US President Barack Obama must meet Chinese President Hu Jintao first and then the Dalai Lama as cordial relations between the two countries are very important, said the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile here.

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“No meeting between the two has been fixed yet. I feel President Obama should meet Chinese President Hu Jintao first and then His Holiness (Dalai Lama),” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said during an interaction with a group of media persons here.

Elaborating, he said: “Cordial relations between the US and PRC (People’s Republic of China) in the present situation is very important. There should not be any hostile relations and confrontation between these two… In order to strike a good relation with China, he should not irritate the Chinese leadership.”

He added that the Dalai Lama is the cause of “great irritation” to China. “The Chinese leadership is quite irritated with whatever he does,” he said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is scheduled to visit the US next month.

The Tibetan prime minister also said that he has a lot of hopes from Obama.

“His support and sympathy is very important. Unless the Chinese leadership has the will to resolve Tibet, outside powers can only help but cannot take any decisive course. Tibet will always remain an internal issue of PRC,” he added.

Meanwhile, ahead of Obama’s visit to China, his aides Monday met Dalai Lama at his official residence to apprise him on the best way the US could assist in the resolution of the Tibetan issue.

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.”

“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 also met Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama’s special envoy Lodi Gyari here Sunday.

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 had Monday 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”.

However, Rinpoche’s statement here could be seen as an attempt to end all speculations regarding Obama and Dalai Lama’s visit.

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.