First time in decades: Tibetan political leader visits White House - GulfToday

First time in decades: Tibetan political leader visits White House


This photo shows the Tibetan political leader Lobsang Sangay poses for a photograph. File photo

Gulf Today Report

For the first time in six decades, the head of the Tibetan government in exile has visited the White House — a historic recognition by the United States — on Friday.

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) president Lobsang Sangay was invited to the White House to meet the newly appointed US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Robert Destro, on Friday, the CTA said in a press release.


Mike Pompeo to meet Taliban negotiators in Qatar

Multiple blasts rock Kabul casualties feared

The democratically elected government-in-exile, that is headquartered in this northern Indian hill station, Sangay became the first CTA president to be formally invited into the US State Department to meet Assistant Secretary and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Robert Destro.

“This unprecedented meeting perhaps will set an optimistic tone for CTA participation with US officials and be more formalised in the coming years,” said the CTA, which is based in India's Dharamshalah.

Paramilitary police officers swap positions during a change of guard in front of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. File/Reuters

Tibet has become one of the areas of dispute between the United States and China, with relations between the world's two biggest economies at their lowest point in decades.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Beijing in July of violating Tibetan human rights and said Washington supported “meaningful autonomy” for the region.

Beijing officials have since accused the United States of using Tibet to try to promote “splittism” in China. China has also refused to engage with Destro.

China seized control over Tibet in 1950 in what it described as a “peaceful liberation” that helped it throw off its “feudalist past”, but critics led by the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama say Beijing's rule amounts to “cultural genocide.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in August that China needed to build an “impregnable fortress” in Tibet in order to protect national unity.

Related articles