Bush Welcomes Dalai Lama

The following article is from the Autumn, 2003 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Meeting with the Dalai Lama at the White House on September 10, President Bush expressed his strong support for the Dalai lama's efforts to find a negotiated solution with the Chinese leadership.

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The Dalai Lama's last Washington visit was in May 2001, making this his first opportunity to meet with U.S. leaders since the renewed contact between his envoys and Chinese government officials, credited in part to sustained U.S. interest in the dialogue process conveyed consistently to Chinese leaders. To date, the Dalai Lama's envoys have made two trips to China and Tibet, in September 2002 and May-June 2003, following an impasse in direct contact of nearly a decade. A Report on Tibet Negotiations issued from the White House to the Congress shortly before the envoys' second trip detailed steps taken by the President and Secretary of State to encourage the Chinese government to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet. While the report stressed that questions surrounding Tibet and its relationship to Chinese authorities in Beijing should be resolved by direct dialogue between the Tibetans and the Chinese, it also made clear that the "lack of resolution of these problems....will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States...."

Meetings with President Bush and Secretary of State Powell were said to have reflected their strong interest in the Dalai Lama's evaluation of the renewed contact between the Chinese and Tibetans and possible next steps, including a third trip by the Dalai Lama's envoys. Discussions reportedly included commitments from the U.S. Government and the Dalai Lama to seek a mutually beneficial solution for Chinese and Tibetans arrived at through dialogue and based on autonomy for Tibetans, and whether a trip by the Dalai Lama to China or Tibet might be plausible. Throughout his Washington visit The Dalai Lama forecast a lengthy and difficult process of negotiations and asked that the United States concurrently focus its attention on three immediate concerns: (1) unchecked Chinese emigration into Tibet, (2) the economic marginalization of Tibetans, and (3) the impact of resource extraction and development on Tibet's fragile environment. Chinese policies that had attempted to grapple with these kinds of negative impacts were identified and discussed, and both the President and Secretary were very well briefed on the situation in Tibet. The meetings occurred amid the usual official complaints from Beijing who urged the United States to stop using the Tibet issue to interfere with China's internal affairs, so as to not harm China-U.S. relations. Nonetheless, the Dalai Lama was received at the State Department and White House with diplomatic courtesies, which included a warm White House welcome by First Lady Laura Bush, and administration officials did not shy away from formal and informal conveyances of friendship and solidarity with the Dalai Lama and his efforts.

(From the International Campaign from Tibet website)

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