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US lawmakers meet with Tibetan Parliament and Dalai Lama

Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives waves to the crowd upon her arrival at the Kangra airport in Kangra, June 18, 2024.
Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives waves to the crowd upon her arrival at the Kangra airport in Kangra, June 18, 2024.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Congressman Michael McCaul and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived Tuesday in Dharamshala, India, to visit the Tibetan Parliament in Exile — also known as the Central Tibetan Administration or CTA — and meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

"It is an honor to be standing in your temple of democracy," McCaul said at the Kangra Airport, noting the group would be meeting Wednesday with the Dalai Lama.

"It's very exciting to be here," Pelosi said, emphasizing the delegation's focus is to advocate for the Resolve Tibet Act and visit the Dalai Lama.

Crowds of Tibetans gathered at the airport to meet the visiting delegation. The group included schoolchildren with banners and dozens of monks and nuns.

Bill encourages conversation

The visit comes with expectations that U.S. President Joe Biden soon will sign legislation called "Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act," also called the Resolve Tibet Act, was passed by the U.S. Congress last week.

The bill seeks to encourage Beijing to speak with Tibetan leaders, a process that has been stalled since 2010. The goal of discussions would be to develop a negotiated agreement on Tibet that considers the Tibetan people's views on their cultural and historical identity.

"Over the last two years, the Resolve Tibet Bill was passed … and it is now on the desk of President Biden, so that will be a game changer," said Tenzin Lekshay, spokesperson of the CTA.

China pushes back on visit

The U.S. congressional visit and possible signing of the bill received pushback from China, who sees the Dalai Lama as separatist.

"We ... urge the U.S. to fully recognize the anti-China and separatist nature of the Dalai clique, abide by its commitments on Tibet-related issues, refrain from any form of contact with it, and stop sending erroneous messages," foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Tuesday.

"We urge the U.S. side to honor its commitment of recognizing Tibet as part of China and not supporting Tibetan independence, and not to sign the above-mentioned bill," he also said during a regular briefing.

The Dalai Lama fled to India after an unsuccessful 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. The Dalai Lama has met U.S. officials and presidents during visits to the country but is yet to meet Biden as president.

Some information from Reuters was used in this report.

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