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President Biden seen as open to meeting with Dalai Lama

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb11’23) – While there are no suggestions or plans yet that US President Joe Biden would meet with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong (executive head) of the Central Tibetan Administration, has said Feb 10 that the former would be willing to do so, speaking after his meeting with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Tsering has said Pelosi told him of Biden’s openness to a meeting when he called on her in the Capitol on Feb 8, joined by Hollywood star and Tibet advocate Richard Gere.

“We … had the honor of meeting with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who affirmed that President Biden would happily meet with the Dalai Lama. But whether that meeting will happen in person or not is something that we cannot confirm yet,” Tsering has told rfa.org Feb 10.

Any meeting with the Dalai Lama would be symbolically significant as expression of support for the Tibetan people’s rights and freedom. China has always opposed and criticized government and political leaders who meet with the Dalai Lama as support for Tibetan separatism even though the latter only seeks genuine autonomy for his occupied homeland.

Before Pelosi, known for her strong support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, Tsering has met with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, while looking forward to a meeting with current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Tsering arrived in the United States on Feb 2 for his second visit to meet with the Tibetan communities in the country and will also visit Canada.

He previously visited the United States in Apr 2022, when he also met with McCaul and Pelosi as well as Gere, who is the Board Chairman of Washington-based Tibet Advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet.

Tsering’s current trip came as a bipartisan group of senators and representatives push for a landmark bill that would establish the US position that Tibet was historically never a part of China, and that “the conflict” between China and Tibet “remains unresolved.” It will also push for dialogue between the two parties to resolve the issue peacefully while recognizing Tibet’s right to self-determination under international law.

On Feb 9, Tsering has met with the heads of the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID, an independent agency of the US federal government), two of the largest sources of funding for the CTA’s programmes in exile.

Later in the afternoon, the Sikyong has presided over a discussion on Tibet and China at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), speaking on “Tibet Matters: A litmus test for PRC’s commitment to international rule-based order”. Those who attended it have included a number of Chinese scholars and researchers.

He has also held discussion on the situation and future policy of Tibet -China with a group of Chinese intellectuals, pro-democracy advocates, and students. Yang Jianli, the President of the Washington-based Citizen Power Initiatives for China, and Cai Xia, a Chinese dissident and former professor of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, were among those who were reported to have taken part in it.

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