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President Obama sends delegation to meet Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

September 14, 2009

From The International Campaign for Tibet

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama today confirmed that discussions between the Dalai Lama and a senior US Government delegation took place in Dharamsala on September 13 and 14. The delegation was led by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and included Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (designated to serve concurrently as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues) and other US Government officials.

According to a statement posted on the official website of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (http://www.dalailama.com/news/432/htm [1]), Ms. Jarrett personally conveyed the commitment of President Obama “to support the Tibetan people in protecting their distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage and securing respect for their human rights and civil liberties” as well as the US President’s commendation for the Dalai Lama’s consistency in seeking genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China through his middle way approach.”

A senior aide within the Dalai Lama’s office said: “Ms. Jarrett had expressed President Obama’s wish for an enduring relationship with His Holiness and, additionally, for building a strong U.S.-China relationship. In this way the United States would be in a better position to seek progress in the dialogue, improvements in human rights and other improvements in the lives of Tibetans.”

The statement also revealed that President Obama and the Dalai Lama would meet in Washington, DC, after the US-China Summit in November.

The same senior aide said, “Taking into considerations the broader issues, it was decided sometime ago that the meeting between His Holiness and President Obama should take place after President Obama’s discussions in Beijing.”

According to Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “His Holiness has shared with the US delegation his views about how the President can help the Tibetan people and he would value an opportunity to hear directly from the President about what transpired during the Beijing summit with regard to Tibet. I have the Dalai Lama’s schedule for the remainder of the year and will work with the White House on a meeting date.”

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the head of the Central Tibetan Administration, who also met with the US delegation, said, “This has been an important visit, as it demonstrates President Obama’s great admiration for the leadership and approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and his respect for the Tibetan Buddhist culture. We are most appreciative that they have traveled so far to personally convey these messages to His Holiness and the Tibetan people.”

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