Hundreds of Tibetans receive Dalai Lama as he arrives for knee treatment in US 

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 24 June: Hundreds of Tibetans in the US gathered to welcome their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as he arrived in New York yesterday to receive medical treatment for his knees.

His departure to the US for medical purposes follows a visit by a high-level US congressional delegation led by US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, which included former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Dharamsala last week. Their meetings with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), drew sharp criticism from China.

During an official ceremony held at Tsuklakhang courtyard next to the 88-year-old Dalai Lama’s residence, the delegates expressed staunch support for Tibet’s freedom struggle and right to self-determination. They called on China to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama and the CTA.

At their meeting with the Dalai Lama at his residence, the delegates also presented him with a framed copy of the Resolve Tibet Act, a bipartisan bill passed by the US Congress on 12 June. Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated that the White House “must not sign the bill into law,” warning of “resolute measures” if it does. In response, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden “is going to do what he thinks is best on behalf of the American people.”

The US delegates’ subsequent meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in the capital after their engagement in Dharamsala are seen by observers as New Delhi’s approval of the visit and a shift in support for the Tibetan movement, according to a report by First Post on Saturday.

No public talks or engagements are currently planned for the Dalai Lama’s visit to the US, his first trip in seven years. Penpa Tsering, the head of the CTA has said that following the knee surgery, the Dalai Lama may be able to walk properly within three weeks. The Tibetan spiritual leader turns 90 on 6 July according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

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