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As Tibet Bill advances closer to becoming law in US, lawmakers to meet Dalai Lama

Dharamsala: As the Resolve Tibet Bill advances closer to becoming law to enhance American support for Tibet, a high-level US congressional delegation, led by Michael McCaul, is reaching this Himachal Pradesh hill town on Tuesday to meet Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and interact with representatives of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as the Tibetan government in exile.

CTA believes the significant meeting highlights bipartisan US support for Tibetan autonomy and promotes dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s envoys.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in March 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, believes in a ‘middle-way’ approach, meaning greater autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence. The 88-year-old Tibetan monk lives in exile in McLeodganj, a small and quaint hill station on the suburbs of Dharamsala in the northern Indian Himalayas.

US lawmakers last week passed a bipartisan bill to enhance support for Tibet and promote dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama towards a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute between Tibet and China. It now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

The visiting lawmakers, including Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, will have an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on Wednesday morning, a CTA spokesperson said on Tuesday.

CTA officials believe the Resolve Tibet Act, once signed, is a powerful reaffirmation of the United States’ steadfast commitment to the people of Tibet.

Visiting House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman McCaul is an original sponsor of the bill.

Supporting the bill, McCaul had said, “The United States has never accepted that Tibet was part of China since ancient times as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) falsely claims. This legislation clarifies US policy and highlights the unique language, religion, and culture of the Tibetan people. It directs US diplomacy to push back against CCP propaganda. In addition, it ensures Tibetans have a say in their own future.”

“This bill stresses the need for dialogue between the CCP and other democratically elected leaders of Tibet. Any resolution must include the wishes and voice of the Tibetan people…Passing this bill demonstrates America’s resolve that the CCP’s status quo in Tibet is not acceptable and I can think of no greater message or gift to the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet than the swift passage of this bill to get to the President’s desk as soon as possible to help put the people of Tibet in charge of their own future,” he said.

The US delegation visit comes two days ahead of a planned trip by the Dalai Lama to the US to undergo medical treatment for his knees. However, his office told IANS there will be no public engagement, including public audiences, of His Holiness during the visit.

En route to the US, the 14th Dalai Lama will briefly halt in Zurich, Switzerland on June 22.

As per the schedule, the visiting delegation will be briefed on the evolution, composition, and functioning of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

The previous crucial meeting of the spiritual leader with the US high-level delegation led by Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Under Secretary Uzra Zeya was held here on May 18, 2022.

That was the sixth visitation of the successive Special Coordinators to Dharamsala.

As per the CTA, in January 2000 Assistant Secretary Julia Taft became the first Special Coordinator to visit Dharamsala. In November 2006, Undersecretary Paula J. Dobriansky visited. 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 Dharamsala.

Undersecretary Sarah Sewall visited Dharamsala in 2014 and 2016.

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