Tibetan administration head meets Trump’s point man on Tibet
The statement said Sangay urged Destro to press the Chinese government to have a dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama based on the “Middle Way Approach”Updated: Oct 16, 2020, 22:46 IST
The head of the Tibetan administration in exile, Lobsang Sangay, has met with Robert Destro, the newly appointed US special coordinator for Tibetan issues, a move that is widely anticipated to rile China.
Sangay is “sikyong” or president of the Dharamshala-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which said in a statement that he had discussed the India-China border standoff at his meeting with Destro in Washington on Thursday.
The statement said Sangay urged Destro to press the Chinese government to have a dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama based on the “Middle Way Approach”. The statement added Sangay “also elucidated the ongoing Indo-Tibet border clashes”, without giving details.
Sangay posted photos of the meeting with Destro on his social media accounts. “Great honor to meet with the Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues @DRL_AS. This is the first time a Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration was formally invited inside the State Department,” he tweeted.
Sangay was among the first persons whom Destro met following his appointment to the special position on Tibet by the Trump administration on Wednesday. Announcing the appointment, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Destro will address the “dire human rights situation the people of Tibet face” and serve as the US administration’s conduit to the Tibetan diaspora.
Destro has said he will engage Tibetans and America’s partners around the world to promote human rights and freedoms for Tibet. “The US is concerned by the lack of meaningful autonomy for Tibetans and the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] ongoing crackdown on Tibetan Buddhists,” he tweeted.
China has for long described the Dalai Lama and the CTA as part of a “separatist” movement, and opposed meetings between Tibetan leaders and representatives of the Indian and foreign governments. The Chinese foreign ministry described Destro’s appointment as a move designed to “interfere in China’s internal affairs and destabilise Tibet”.
Outlining his priorities in a tweet, Destro referred to the “deteriorating human rights situation and lack of religious freedom in Tibetan areas” and said the US will continue to seek dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama.
The CTA’s statement said Sangay was the first CTA president to be formally invited to the US state department for meetings, marking a “momentous progress” in the Tibet-US relations.
Though CTA began seeking meetings with the state department soon after Sangay assumed office in September 2011, it “took nine long years for the US state department to realise the strategic importance of having the CTA president have formal meetings...similar to leaders of independent countries”, the statement said.
During 2011-18, Sangay informally met state department officials but these events “were kept undisclosed and photographs were not allowed”, the statement added.
“Today’s unprecedented meeting further strengthens the narrative that the Central Tibetan Administration will be treated akin to other governments by the US state department, and it is yet another significant win for Tibetans and allies,” Sangay was quoted as saying in the statement.
Sangay also invited Destro to visit the CTA in Dharamsala.