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US Tibet envoy in Dharamsala to meet Dalai Lama, Tibetan leaders

IANS | May 18, 2022 06:07 PM

DARAMSAALA: Officials of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) headquartered in this northern hill town, where the elderly Buddhist monk Dalai Lama resides, on Wednesday accorded a rousing welcome to the maiden arrival of US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Uzra Zeya.

The visit signifies US support for the cause of Tibet and also to promote dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama.

The Special Coordinator arrived at the CTA secretariat on the first leg of her two-day engagements in McLeodganj -- a small and quaint hill station on the suburbs of Dharamsala overlooking the Himalayas and Tibet.

The CTA delegation, headed by Sikyong (President) Penpa Tsering, led the delegation of the US State Department to the secretariat where they will have a brief meeting followed by a tour of offices at Gangchen Kyishong, a statement by the CTA said.

During her stay here, Special Coordinator Zeya will also meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence.

A high-level visitation from the US such as this one signifies the latter's momentous support for the Tibetan issue, said the CTA.

The Special Coordinator's visit comes shortly after the successful visit to Washington last month by Sikyong (President) Penpa Tsering of the CTA where the latter met with the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other bipartisan members of Congress, besides officials at the State Department.

This is the sixth visitation of the successive Special Coordinators to Dharamsala. In January 2000, Assistant Secretary Julia Taft became the first Special Coordinator to visit Dharamsala.

In November 2006, Undersecretary Paula J. Dobriansky visited. In 2009, Undersecretary Maria Otero (then designated to serve as Special Coordinator), accompanied Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, on a trip to Dharamsala.

Undersecretary Sarah Sewall visited this hill town in 2014 and 2016.

The high-profile meeting, the first since Zeya becoming the Biden administration's point person on Tibet in December 2021, is seen in the administration in exile a crucial step to pressure China to respect the human rights of the people in Tibet, who are facing extinction of their unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity under China's 'repressive' rule for over six decades.

A statement by the US Department of State on Monday reads: "Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya will travel May 17-22 to India and Nepal to deepen cooperation on human rights and democratic governance goals, and to advance humanitarian priorities."

Responding to the US envoy's maiden visit, International Campaign for Tibet Interim Vice President Tencho Gyatso told IANS: "We are excited to see Special Coordinator Uzra Zeya visit Dharamsala, where she can witness first-hand the importance of the Tibetan democracy she's working to support, as well as the dire need to sustain the beauty of the Tibetan culture before the Chinese Communist Party succeeds in its obliteration."

Tencho is also in Dharamsala during the visit of the Special Coordinator.

The Dalai Lama, who along with many of his supporters fled the Himalayan homeland and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959, believes in three commitments: The promotion of inner values as the source of real happiness, the fostering of inter-religious harmony, as exemplified in India, and the preservation of Tibet's language, culture and environment.

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