By Yancho Sabev (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

By Yancho Sabev (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

US lawmakers met with the Dalai Lama Tuesday to discuss human rights in Tibet.

A delegation of U.S. Congress members led by Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader, arrived in India. They are concentrating on human rights and national security, among a number of other issues. The visit will last two days. Pelosi's last visit to the Dalai Lama was in 2008.

The delegation is made up of a number of Democrats, such as Eliot Engel, Betty McCollum, Joyce Beatty, Jim McGovern, Judy Chu and freshman Indian American Representative Pramila Jayapal. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, is also part of the delegation.

Pelosi and her delegation visited the Dalai Lama at his Dharamsala headquarters on May 9. Her intention was to attract world attention when it came to human rights in Tibet. This visit comes at a time when U.S. President Donald J. Trump seeks warmer relationships with China.

The Dalai Lama held Pelosi's hand in his timber constructed hilltop house. He at first said that the place is his home- and then corrected himself by saying that his actual home is on the other side of the mountains. The spiritual leader was referring to India, a comment on his refugee status. He said to the U.S. delegation that he has been a resident in India for 58 years, the Indian government's longest guest. However, on an emotional level, he is deep inside Tibet. He reminded his guests that China has 400 million Buddhists.

This meeting has a high probability of upsetting China. Beijing, in its official stance, has described the Dalai Lama as a separatist. The Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet in 1959. He settled in India and formed the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

During the meeting with the Pelosi delegation, he expressed his willingness to make a trip to China, but cannot as the country regards him as a “dangerous splittist”.

Pelosi said that her bipartisan delegation comes in the spirit of peace and faith. They have come to India to get inspired by the Tibetan spiritual head. They also want to demonstrate the commitment made earlier to Tibetans. She added that the U.S. is committed to helping Tibetans, their language, their faith, and their culture.

When it comes to the Trump administration, this visit is not a welcome development. The President has once cast China as U.S. trade adversary and a manipulator of currency. Post-election, however, he is trying for President Xi Jinping's crucial support to rein in North Korea, a nuclear-armed nation.

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