New Delhi [India], August 10 (ANI): Amid escalating tensions with China, US ambassador to India, Atul Keshap on Tuesday met a representative of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and said Washington supports religious freedom.
"Enjoyed meeting with Ngodup Dongcheng, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The U.S. supports the religious freedom and the preservation of Tibetans' unique cultural and linguistic identities, and respects the @DalaiLama's vision for the equal rights of all people," Keshap tweeted.
The meeting holds significance as it comes days after US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken met Ngodup Dongcheng. China, which considers Tibet as its integral part and accused the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet, reacted sharply to Blinken's meeting.
Blinken met with Ngodup Dongchung, who presented him with a scarf from the Dalai Lama. A State Department spokesperson said, "Secretary Blinken had an opportunity to meet briefly this morning in New Delhi with a representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."
Following the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said the contact between the US side and the Dalai clique goes against the US promise to recognising Tibet as being part of China.
Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and later annexed it.
The 1959 Tibetan uprising saw violent clashes between Tibetan residents and Chinese forces. The 14th Dalai Lama fled to neighbouring India after the failed uprising against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan Buddhist leader, established a government-in-exile in India.
There are at present more than 10,000 Tibetans living in Dharamsala alone, and an estimated 160,000 Tibetan exiles around the world.
Since becoming President in 2013, Xi has pursued a firm policy of stepping up security control of Tibet. Beijing has been cracking down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama.
The United States has been raising the issue of human rights violations in Tibet on various platforms.
Recently, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited China to meet Chinese officials. She raised concerns about human rights violations in Tibet, Hong Kong and Eastern Turkestan. (ANI)