US envoy meets Dalai Lama, discusses dialogue with China

Thursday, February 24, 2011

DHARAMSALA - US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer Thursday met Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and discussed various issues including the dialogue process between Tibetans and China and global issues, such as environment and the situation in Libya and Egypt.

Roemer and his wife Sally, who reached here Wednesday afternoon for a two-day visit, flew back to Delhi after the talks.

Talking to reporters at Gaggal airport prior to his departure, Roemer said the meeting with the Dalai Lama was “the first time in many years by a US ambassador”.

Asked what transpired during the meeting, he said the dialogue process between Beijing and the Tibetan leader’s envoys, which came to a standstill after the ninth round of talks held in January last year, were among the “many important issues” that came under discussion.

“The US had asked China to continue the dialogue process on Tibet issue with envoys of Dalai Lama,” he said and added that the US was very much concerned about human rights of Tibetans.

“The talks were most engaging and most productive,” Roemer said.

The Dalai Lama’s office did not comment in detail on Roemer’s visit, but was upbeat over the “positive” outcome of the morning meeting that lasted for more than an hour, the Tibetan spiritual leader’s private secretary Chimme Choekyappa told IANS: “It was very good”.

Refusing to comment officially on the role of the US regarding resumption of talks between the Dalai Lamas envoys and Beijing, he said the meeting was focused on various global issues.

“Of course, environment and recent socio-political conditions in Middle East and North Africa were among the major issues. His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed concern over recent incidents of violence,” Choekyappa said.

Sources in the Dalai Lamas office said only close aides of the Nobel laureate were present at the meeting.

Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary at the Dalai Lamas office, said: “It was just a courtesy call. Issues of common interest were discussed.”

A senior official in the Dalai Lamas office said the visit was part of periodic contacts between the US government and the Tibetan leaders. He said the aim was also to encourage a dialogue between Beijing and the spiritual leaders envoys.

Sources in the Dalai Lamas office said the possibility of the 17th Karmapas issue finding a mention in the meeting cannot be ruled out.

Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje held a meeting with the Dalai Lama at his official palace just two days prior to the Roemer-Dalai Lama meeting.

Police Jan 28 recovered nearly Rs.70 million worth of unaccounted foreign and Indian currency from the Karmapa Lama’s monastery, Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery near here.

Roemer was the third among high-level US officials to meet the Dalai Lama since March 2008 when the then US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi came to meet the spiritual guru.

His visit also comes less than two years after a high-level group led by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett visited this town to apprise the Nobel laureate and his functionaries on the best way the US could assist in the resolution of the Tibetan issue.

After reaching Dharamsala Wednesday, Roemer inaugurated a refugee reception centre, a transit home for Tibetan escapees, on the outskirts of this town. The US government has funded the centre.

He met high-ranking officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile, including prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche, Wednesday

The Dalai Lamas government-in-exile is not recognised by any country.

The Dalai Lama, who believes in the middle-path policy that demands greater autonomy for the Tibetans, is viewed by the Chinese as a hostile element who is bent on splitting Tibet from China.

Some 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, with over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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