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Top US official on Tibet issues to meet Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, visit Nepal

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(TibetanReview.net, Apr30’22) – The United States special coordinator for Tibetan issues, Ms Uzra Zeya, is expected to travel to India and meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala next month – the first major contact between the two sides under the Biden administration, reported the hindustantimes.com Apr 29. She will also travel to Nepal where a sizeable number of Tibetan refugees live, reported the kathmandupost.com Apr 29.

Zeya, the under-secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, was appointed the special coordinator for Tibetan issues last December. The Indian-American was the first person the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Mr Penpa Tsering, called on during his just-concluded, first official visit to the United States.

In India, she is expected to be in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh for meetings with the Dalai Lama and leaders of the CTA during May 18-19, the report cited people familiar with the matter as saying.

The report said her India visit had been in the pipeline since last year, and is being seen by the Tibetan people as a strong demonstration of US support for the Tibetan cause.

After India, Zeya will visit Nepal from May 20 to 22 and meet with senior officials including the prime minister and foreign minister, said the kathmandupost.com report.

Zeya will be the highest-level US official to visit Nepal in almost a decade. Earlier, in 2012, two US Under Secretaries—Wendy Sherman and María Otero—had visited Nepal, the report noted.

The flurry of visits from the US in recent times coincides with the 75th anniversary of Nepal-US diplomatic ties, but it is taking place also hot on the heels of the ratification of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact by the Nepali Parliament, the report said.

Zeya’s visit takes place in the backdrop of US expressions of concern about the condition of Tibetan refugees living in Nepal and its calls on Kathmandu to provide identity cards to as many as 10,000 currently undocumented Tibetan refugees. Nepal stopped issuing identity cards to Tibetan refugees since 1995, the report noted.

Tibetan refugees in Nepal are seen as a major security concern of China and Kathmandu’s political restrictions on them have been immense.

Zeya’s visit is taking place in an uptick in relations between the two countries.

“The Biden administration has already extended an invitation to Prime Minister Deuba to visit the US and there is also a possibility of a visit at the highest level from Washington, probably by Vice President Kamala Devi Harris or Secretary of State Antony John Blinken, after the local polls,” the report quoted a senior Nepali official familiar with the developments as saying.

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