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Dalai Lama leading Senate prayer will ‘influence’ Beijing-Washington ties

Source:AFP-Global Times Published: 2014-3-7 0:48:01

The Dalai Lama will lead the US Senate in prayer on Thursday as he meets leaders of Congress, his office said.

The Dalai Lama will later meet leaders of both the Senate and House of Representatives, said Kaydor Aukatsang, a spokesman for the Office of Tibet. A Senate aide confirmed the Dalai Lama's meetings.

"This will certainly affect the Sino-US relationship as China always opposes foreign leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama,"  Xin Qiang, a deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. 

The Dalai Lama's separatist activities have been a tough issue between China and the US and the US often uses it to challenge China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Xin noted.

The Dalai Lama is a political figure who fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government in exile" in 1959.

This will mark the first time that the Dalai Lama delivers the prayer that customarily opens each Senate session.

It came after the Dalai Lama met President Barack Obama last month, the fourth consecutive sitting US leader whom he has seen.

China has viewed this meeting between the Dalai Lama and Obama as a "gross interference in China's internal affairs" and said the move severely violated basic norms governing international relations and caused grave damage to China-US relations, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on February 23.

However, the impact of the Dalai Lama's latest activities will be limited, Xin said.

Given the wide range of common interests between China and the US, Washington understands well China's rising strength and role and would not be too provocative on the Tibet question, Xin said. 

"Besides, policies by the Chinese government have kept Tibet stable and the influence of the Dalai Lama has been waning there," he added.

Obama has met with the Dalai Lama twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011.

The Senate has opened each session with a prayer.

AFP - Global Times
Posted in: Diplomacy, Americas