The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile Lobsang Sangay met special coordinator for Tibetan issues, Robert Destro, on Thursday. It was the first meeting between the president of the Central Tibetan Administration with that of the US state department.
Sharing a picture with Destro on Facebook, Sangay said, “Great honor to meet with the Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues Robert A Destro. This is the first time in six decades, a Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was formally invited inside the State Department.”
Sangay also thanked US secretary of state Mike Pompeo for appointing Destro, who is also a human rights official. He said, “I want to thank the State Department for acknowledging the democratically elected leader of CTA and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for approving the visit. History is made today!”
According to a report filed by Office of Tibet, Washington DC, "Destro told Dr Sangay that he and his team were thrilled to have Sikyong finally visit. During the meeting with Special Coordinator Destro, Dr. Sangay told Destro that he welcomed his appointment, and Destro asked what he and the State Department could do to support the Tibetan diaspora."
"Sikyong Dr Sangay urged Destro to press the Chinese government to have dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government based on the Middle Way Approach. And finally, Dr. Sangay also elucidated the ongoing Indo-Tibet border clashes. Dr. Sangay also invited Special Coordinator Destro to visit the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, India. Destro was sympathetic to all points made and stated that he wanted to “get things done” in collaboration with Sikyong. Scott Busby, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor was also in attendance," the report added.
“This has been a long progress for all those involved at the Central Tibetan Administration, and I am pleased that our labor has paid off with this progress, an achievement that paves the way for future Sikyongs and leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration. This is the end result of years of persistent work, and we will take this opportunity to respectfully push for direct dialogue between the Central Tibetan Administration and US officials.
“Today’s unprecedented meeting further strengthens the narrative that the Central Tibetan Administration will be treated akin to other governments by the US State Department, and it is yet another significant win for Tibetans and allies. I want to congratulate Special Coordinator Destro and welcome him to the Tibetan freedom struggle. I am convinced that he will be an ardent advocate for the Tibetan cause and the CTA under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” remarked Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
“We are pleased that this meeting was finally approved by nine different offices within the State Department. This is a clear sign of near unanimous belief within the State Department that the Central Tibetan Administration must have more involvement in the peace process” stated Representative Ngodup Tsering.
After the meeting with Destro, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay had a meeting with Richard Albright, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and Carol Thompson O’Connell, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
The United States had on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Robert Destro as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues.
The appointment of Destro is reportedly aimed at creating pressure on Communist China regarding the autonomy of Tibet. It also aims to highlight the issues related to human rights and forced labour in the region at the international forums.
Following Destro’s appointment, Pompeo criticised the Chinese government in a statement, which was accessed by Bloomberg. “The United States remains concerned with the PRC’s repression of the Tibetan community, including the lack of meaningful autonomy, the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China,” Pompeo said.
Calling the appointment as an attempt to interfere in China’s domestic affairs, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian lashed out at the US and alleged that the appointment is a case of political manipulation. “Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The setting up of the so-called coordinator for Tibetan issues is entirely out of political manipulation to interfere in China’s internal affairs and destabilise Tibet. China firmly opposes that,” Zhao said.