Washington: US Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya will travel to India and Nepal this week to deepen cooperation on human rights and democratic governance goals with the two nations, the State Department has announced.
Zeya, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and an India-American, is expected to visit Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh during her visit to India. Dharamsala is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya will travel May 17 22 to India and Nepal to deepen cooperation on human rights and democratic governance goals, and to advance humanitarian priorities, the State Department said on Monday.
She will also discuss partnering with India and Nepal during this Year of Action for the Summit for Democracy. The delegation will include USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia, Anjali Kaur, it added.
It will be the first high-level contact between the US and the Tibetan leadership after Joe Biden became President in January last year.
In New Delhi, people familiar with the development said last month that Zeya will hold talks with the Dalai Lama and other senior leaders of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, signalling the Biden administration’s commitment to the Tibetan cause.
Last month, Tibetan exile leader Penpa Tsering paid a visit to Washington D.C. and met Zeya. Tsering the elected head of Tibet’s India-based exile government the Central Tibetan Administration had also met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders.
China considers the 14th Dalai Lama as a political exile who has attempted to split Tibet from China under the guise of religion.
According to the people cited above, key issues relating to the Tibetan cause are likely to figure in the talks.
As the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues, Zeya has been coordinating the Biden administration’s policies, programmes and projects relating to the Tibetan cause.
Zeya was sworn-in as the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 14 last year.
On December 20, she was concurrently appointed as the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues.
The US has been consistently supporting the Tibetan cause notwithstanding China’s strong objection.
In 2020, the US came out with legislation reaffirming the absolute right of Tibetan people to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama and the preservation of Tibet’s environment.
After the US Congress passed the legislation, China had accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs.
China has been insisting that the selection of the next Dalai Lama has to be decided within Chinese territory and that it has to have a say in the matter.
The issue of a successor to the 14th Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in Dharamsala since 1959, gained traction as he turned 86 in July last year.
Blinken had met a representative of the Dalai Lama during his visit to New Delhi last year.
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