Tibetans welcome Obama, Dalai Lama meetingJuly 16th, 2011 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS
Dharamsala, July 16 (IANS) The Tibetan government-in-exile, based in this Himachal Pradesh town, Saturday welcomed the scheduled meeting between their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and US President Barack Obama, saying it will be an occasion to highlight the “tense” situation in Tibet.
“It’s an occasion to impress upon American President Barack Obama about the situation in Tibet that is very, very tense. So we believe that it’s time to convey our concerns over atrocities against the local Tibetans,” Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the Tibetan government-in-exile, told IANS.
A release on the White House website says President Obama is to meet the Dalai Lama Saturday (July 16).
The two will meet in the Map Room, not the Oval Office, which is generally reserved for visiting heads of state.
Samphel said the Dalai Lama would urge Obama to persuade China not to use force against locals in northeastern Tibet and end the stand-off between the armed forces and the Tibetans.
The situation around Kirti monastery in Tibet turned volatile when monk Phuntsok set himself afire March 16 to protest the suppression of peaceful protests across Tibet in 2008.
Samphel said the meeting would also discuss other issues related to Tibet, including stalled talks between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the Chinese.
“Chinese are being convinced by the US to renew talks with the envoys of His Holiness,” he added.
The proposed meeting has already angered the Chinese, who have urged the US to review their decision.
Obama met the Dalai Lama Feb 18 last year at the White House despite China’s stern warning that Sino-US ties would be damaged if US leaders meet the spiritual leader.
The then US ambassador Timothy J. Roemer Feb 24 met the Dalai Lama here and discussed various issues, including the dialogue process between Tibetans and China.
The spiritual leader has met all the US presidents since George Bush (1991). He has met Bill Clinton and George W. Bush several times.
In 2007, he received the US Congressional Gold Medal, even in the face of protests by China.
The Dalai Lama’s 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.