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US special coordinator for Tibet in Dharamshala, to meet Dalai Lama tomorrow

The visit of the American delegation led by Uzra Zeya comes almost a week after Central Tibetan Administration president Penpa Tsering concluded his three-nation visit to the US, Canada and Germany.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 18, 2022 3:26:12 pm
In her maiden visit, Zeya and the US delegation reached Dharamshala and was accorded a rousing welcome by the Tibetans. (Twitter)

A United States delegation led by special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya reached Dharmshala Wednesday, days after Central Tibetan Administration president (Sikyong) Penpa Tsering concluded his three-nation tour to the US, Canada and Germany on May 12.

During the US delegation’s two-day engagements in Dharamshala, Zeya is scheduled to meet the Dalai Lama at his private residence in McLeodganj, Dharamshala Thursday morning, the private office of the Dalai Lama confirmed to The Indian Express.

“It is part of their scheduled programme. Any Indian or foreign diplomat visiting Dharamshala surely wants to call on His Holiness. Thus, the US delegation is also coming to visit him tomorrow morning,” one of the senior officials at Dalai Lama’s private office said.

In her maiden visit, Zeya and the US delegation reached Dharamshala and was accorded a rousing welcome by the Tibetans. Penpa Tsering and the CTA officials received the US delegation and took them to the Kashag (council of ministers) secretariat where they were scheduled to have a brief meeting followed by a tour of offices and the Parliament of Tibetan government-in-exile.

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The US delegation’s visit to Dharamshala assumes significance since Penpa Tsering recently visited Washington and met with Zeya, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Kurt Campbell (deputy assistant to US President Joe Biden and coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on national security), several members of the Congress and various other dignitaries of the state department.

According to the Central Tibetan Administration, this is the sixth visit of the special coordinators to Dharamshala. In January 2000, Assistant Secretary Julia Taft became the first special coordinator to visit Dharamshala. In November 2006, Undersecretary Paula J Dobriansky visited while 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 Dharamshala. Undersecretary Sarah Sewall visited Dharamshala in 2014 and 2016.

Uzra Zeya met with Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on Tuesday night and said that she discussed “regional stability and opportunities to strengthen US-India cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on shared humanitarian and democratic goals”.

The MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Wednesday that they had an engaging discussion on “regional issues of mutual interest”. “Look forward to working together on India’s initiatives at the Summit for Democracy, part of our global partnership,” the spokesperson said.

On April 28, Penpa Tsering and the Central Tibetan Administration delegation met Pelosi on her invitation at her office in Washington DC. Tsering was accompanied by a delegation comprising representative Namgyal Choedup, board chairman of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Richard Gere, vice-chairman of ICT Bhuchung Tsering and abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Zeekgyab Rinpoche. The Tibetan delegation held an hour-long meeting with Pelosi on the pressing issues of Tibet, including the situation concerning 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has been missing for the last 27 years.

“The meeting also discussed collective decisions on their future course of action in regard to resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict,” the Central Tibetan Administration had said in a statement released last month. During the meeting with Pelosi, Tsering had also handed over a letter written by the Dalai Lama to her. Since assuming the office of the Central Tibetan Administration president, it was Tsering’s first in-person meeting with Pelosi.

On April 25, Tsering met Zeya at the state department’s office in the US. The meeting was described as a “courtesy call” made by Tsering as the day also commemorated the 33rd birth anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama.

“The delegation appealed to the special coordinator to assist in resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict at the earliest and the swift return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The meeting also focused on the effective execution of the enrolment bill ‘HR 1646’, which demands the US ambassador to China to meet with the long-missing Panchen Lama of Tibet and confer religious rights awards to the latter to attain recognition,” Zeekyab Rinpoche had said after the meeting.

The Tibetan delegation also called on Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain to celebrate the Panchen Lama’s birth anniversary, following the meeting with the special coordinator on April 25.

Earlier this month, Tsering made his maiden appearance before the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development where he testified on the crisis of Tibet. Through his testimonial, he was also able to garner the committee’s support to unanimously adopt a resolution supporting the peaceful resolution of Tibet.

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