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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

The serious agenda for President Obama and the Dalai Lama

February 21, 2010

ICT Press Release
February 18, 2010

Today’s meetings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
with President Barack Obama, in the late morning,
and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in
the early afternoon, underscore that Tibet
remains a serious issue of global importance.

"Today's meeting is a clear demonstration of
President Obama's support for His Holiness the
Dalai Lama's efforts to resolve the Tibet issue
as well as of his personal respect for him,” said
Lodi Gyari, the Special Envoy of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama and chief negotiator with the Chinese government.

The White House has said that it expects the
meeting between President Obama and the Dalai
Lama to be "engaging and constructive,"
reflecting the recognition that there are serious
and substantive issues on the table for Tibet,
China, and the U.S.-Chinese relationship.

"The United States has a long and active record
on Tibet with well-established polices and
programs," said Mary Beth Markey, Vice President
for International Advocacy at the International
Campaign for Tibet. “Thus, when the White House
stated that the President is meeting with the
Dalai Lama as a ‘spokesman’ for Tibet rights, it
connotes that the agenda will address far more
than religious matters, and will cover a range of
substantive issues, such as human rights abuses,
economic marginalization and regional stability.”

President Obama enters the meeting facing the
fact that the Chinese government has elevated
Tibet to a "core issue" of territorial integrity
and sovereignty, launched an effort to align
foreign governments with its way of thinking on
the status of Tibet, and concluded a rare
top-to-bottom review of its Tibet policy with
serious repercussions for Tibet’s future.  His
meeting also comes just three weeks after the
Dalai Lama’s envoys returned from Beijing for the
ninth round of dialogue, in which the envoys
conveyed further information on their proposal
for genuine autonomy for Tibetans, in their
continuing effort to resolve the Tibet issue
through substantive negotiations.

Last evening , Tibetans in the eastern area of
Amdo, where the Dalai Lama was born, set off
fireworks at midnight to mark the meeting between
the Dalai Lama and President Obama today. It was
a bold reminder of the determination of Tibetans
to express their loyalty to the ir exiled leader,
despite the intense security crackdown in place
since protests occurred across the Tibetan
plateau from March 2008 , and of the hope
Tibetans place in American support for their cause.

"This is an important leadership opportunity for
President Obama to affirm the role of the free
world in promoting human rights and a solution
for Tibet,” concluded Mary Beth Markey. “Today’s
meeting shows that the U.S. Government
understands what is at stake for the Tibetan
people and finds a legitimate place for the Tibet
issue within a comprehensive China policy.”

Press contacts:
Ben Carrdus
Senior Researcher, ICT
Tel: +1 202-580-6760
Email: benc@ictibet.org

Kate Saunders
Director of Communications, ICT
Tel: +44 (0) 7947 138612
Email: press@savetibet.org
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