Washington: The Dalai Lama’s meeting with top US officials, including the President and Secretary of State, underscores the importance of Tibet as a global issue and demonstrates Barack Obama’s support to its cause, a top envoy of the Tibetan spiritual leader has said.
“Today’s meeting is a clear demonstration of President Obama’s support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s efforts to resolve the Tibet issue as well as of his personal respect for him,” said Lodi Gyari, the Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama and chief negotiator with the Chinese government.
The Obama-Dalai meeting came amidst strong objections from China, which said such an engagement would adversely affect Sino-US relations.
The International Campaign for Tibet said the White House statement that it expects the meeting to be “engaging and constructive,” reflects the recognition that there are serious and substantive issues on the table for Tibet, China, and the US-Chinese relationship.
“Thus, when the White House stated that the President is meeting with the Dalai Lama as a ‘spokesman´ for Tibet rights, it connotes that the agenda... will cover a range of substantive issues, such as human rights abuses, economic marginalisation,” said Mary Beth Markey, Vice President for International Advocacy at the International Campaign for Tibet in a statement.
Obama entered the meeting facing the fact that the Chinese government has elevated Tibet to a “core issue” of territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The Dalai Lama’s meeting, Markey said, came just three weeks after his envoys returned from Beijing for the ninth round of dialogue, in which the envoys conveyed further information on their proposal for genuine autonomy.
Tibetans in the eastern area of Amdo, where the Dalai Lama was born, set off fireworks at midnight to mark the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Obama, said the International Campaign for Tibet in a statement.
It was a bold reminder of the determination of Tibetans to express their loyalty to the exiled leader, despite the intense security crackdown in place since protests occurred across the Tibetan plateau from March 2008, and of the hope Tibetans place in American support for their cause, it said.
“This is an important leadership opportunity for President Obama to affirm the role of the free world in promoting human rights and a solution for Tibet,” Markey said.
“Today’s meeting shows that the US Government understands what is at stake for the Tibetan people and finds a legitimate place for the Tibet issue within a comprehensive China policy,” Markey said