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Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay's Washington, DC Visit

November 19, 2011

October 31, 2011 to November 4, 2011
Day One - October 31, 2011:
Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay arrived in Washington, DC on a five-day visit to the US Capital. He was received at the airport by Bhuchung Tsering and Todd Stein of ICT and Kalden Lodoe, President of Capital Area Tibetan Association.
He met with Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democratic Senator from California. The meeting with the Senator also included, Special Envoy, Mr. Lody Gyari and Representative Lobsang Nyandak.  Senator Feinstein is one of the oldest friends of Tibet and the Tibetan people in the U.S. Congress.  She is the author of the Tibet Policy Act which institutionalized Tibet in U.S. foreign policy and codified the position of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the State Department. She was also the Senate sponsor of the resolution to award the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  The Senator reiterated her continued support to the Kalon Tripa and the group had a very productive discussion.
The day's other engagement included an interview with Josh Rogin of The Cable which is the online version of Foreign Policy magazine. Josh Rogin reports on national security and foreign policy and the blog is read widely by US Congressional members and staff.  The piece on Kalon Tripa will be posted shortly.  Here's more information on the blog: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/
 
Day Two - November 1, 2011:


 "Mr. Prime Minister, the Senator is now ready to receive you" called out the staff of Senator Joseph Lieberman as the Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay and his team along with Senator John McCain waited at the reception area of Senator Lieberman's office. Soon Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico (Democrat) and John Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming joined the group as well.  Once everyone was seated, his staff served freshly brewed Tibetan butter tea. The bookshelves in the office were festooned with prayers flags.  It was clear the Senator had gone out of his way to welcome the Kalon Tripa. This meeting, one of the more important ones during the Kalon Tripa's current visit to Washington, DC, was hosted jointly by Senators Lieberman and McCain and their staff.


Senator McCain wasted no time in getting the ball rolling by asking the Kalon Tripa "What can we do to help you?" The four Senators and Kalon Tripa spent nearly forty minutes in an intimate and productive discussion where they discussed the current situation in Ngaba, political transition in Dharamsala and other related issues. Senators Lieberman and McCain extended their strong support to His Holiness and the Kalon Tripa. Senator McCain later tweeted on the meeting and said "Met today w/ Lobsang Sangay, PM of Tibetan gov't - an outstanding leader of a country that deserves its freedom"  The Senator has 1,738,277 twitter followers. Please check out:http://twitter.com/#!/senjohnmccain


The other two important meetings on day two of the trip were a meeting with the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and a meeting with the staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  The Commission, set up by the US Congress in 2000, is responsible for looking at trends in China especially as they relate to economic and security matters.  Five Commissioners attended the meeting with the Kalon Tripa.  Dr. Sangay requested the Commission to consider including Tibet under their mandate and the Commission expressed interest in reaching out to the CTA for a water and resource management hearing to be convened in January 2012.
 
The Kalon Tripa started the day with an interview with Radio Free Asia in the morning. The evening ended with a dinner organized by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) where ICT invited some of their members and donors and they were invited to support educational and developmental projects operated by the Central Tibetan Administration in India.


Day Three - November 2, 2011:
Day three of the Kalon Tripa's visit to Washington, DC saw Dr. Sangay meeting with Representative Jim Sensenbrenner,  speaking at the National Press Club, meeting with Senator Patrick Leahy and his aide, Tim Rieser, and Representatives Andre Crenshaw and Jared Polis.
Congressman Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin recently visited Nepal and he is also the lead sponsor of the Tibet immigration bill.  The meeting with the Congressman and his staff touched on both the issues.


Dr. Sangay spoke at a well attended event at the National Press Club. He was invited to participate in the Club's Newsmaker Program, an hour-long  news conference run by the Club for the benefit of members and the press corps. Under this program guests such as Members of Congress, key government officials, experts in policy, leaders of influential organizations and others agree to give a brief statement and to submit to questions from the press. The Kalon Tripa spoke on the current situation in Tibet particularly the spate of self-immolations. He reiterated his administration's committment to the Middle Way approach and argued that the Tibet issue is amenable to a peaceful and quick solution if Beijing demonstrates the same will and approach as they have towards Hong Kong and Macao, both special administrative regions of PRC, and their policy towards Taiwan.


Senator Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He has a long and personal interest in Tibet and in Nepal.  The Senator visited Tibet in the mid-1990s. The Senator and his key foreign policy aide, Tim Rieser, expressed their continued support.  They voiced concern over the situation in Nepal where Tibetans are coming under increasing restrictions and harassment by Nepalese authorities. The Senator expressed his deep admiration and respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Pictures of the Senator and His Holiness were prominently hung in his office. The Kalon Tripa invited the Senator to visit Dharamsala. Special Envoy Lodi Gyari and Representative Lobsang Nyandak were also present at the meeting.
 
The day's last meeting was with Representatives Ander Crenshaw (Republican from Florida) and Jared Polis (Democrat from Colorado). They are the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Nepal Caucus.  Kalon Tripa briefed both the Representatives on the current situation of Tibetans in Nepal.  Both  the representatives offered their support.  Congressman Crenshaw spoke positively about foreign aid and how it was in the United States' interest to continue offering aid to other countries.  In that context he offered his support for Tibet-related programs funded by the U.S. government. 

 


Day Four and Five - November 3&4, 2011:


The Kalon Tripa's final two day's of his first visit to Washington, DC since assuming office saw him keep up a hectic schedule of meetings with various congressional members and conducting press interviews.


Kalon Tripa with Senator Marco Rubio Day four of the visit (November 3) started with a meeting with Senator Marco Rubio, the young and rising Republican Senator from the important U.S. electoral state of Florida.  Senator Rubio was remarkably well informed on the current situation in Tibet and demonstrated real interest on Tibet.  He lamented President Obama's less than enthusiastic support for the Tibetan issue. In a meeting of two young leaders (the Senator is 40 years old), the Senator told the Kalon Tripa that he was inspired by the Tibet cause, proud to be associated with the issue and wanted to lend his voice and support.  He accepted the Kalon Tripa's invitation to visit Dharamsala.  Kalon Tripa and his team came away from the meeting feeling that Tibet had made a new and important friend.
The meeting with Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) was focused on Nepal as the Congressman had recently come back from a trip to Nepal and Bhutan.  Representative Chabot is the Chair of Middle East/South Asia Subcommittee. He expressed concern on the situation of Tibetans in Nepal.
In his meeting with Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member, Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the Kalon Tripa thanked the US Congress and government for supporting various Tibetan programs and also invited her to visit Dharamsala.
Kalon Tripa testifying before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission A highlight of day four was the Kalon Tripa's testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The hearing drew a full house of audience and three of the committee members attended. Dr. Sangay paid tribute to the late Congressman Lantos in his oral presentation and touched on the outbreak of self-immolation cases in Tibet, the transition in Tibetan political leadership, how the hardline policies of the PRC government was not working in Tibet, how the Tibet issue can be resolved, and His Holiness' recent statement on reincarnation and emanation. Dr. Sangay was warmly welcomed by both the Co-Chairs of the commission - Representative James McGovern (D-MA) and Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA). Rep. Wolf in particular spoke out strongly against the Chinese government and described it as a "fundamentally immoral and evil government."  He stated that the Chinese government was bound to fall as they had taken a page out of the playbook of Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania.  The Congressman was particularly upset to learn that the Nepalese government had refused to issue exit passes that would allow 5000 Tibetans to immigrate to the US.  He, along with Rep. McGovern, stated that they would write and summon the Nepalese ambassador in Washington, DC and request the Nepalese government to allow the Tibetans to leave Nepal.  The Congressman threatened to zero out all US foreign aid to Nepal if the latter did not issue the exit visas to the Tibetans.
Another important witness testifying before the Commission was Kirti Rimpoche whose trip was organized by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).  Since many of the Tibetans who had committed self-immolation in Tibet were related to Kirti Monastery, CTA felt it would be beneficial for the  Committee members and staff to hear directly from Rimpoche.
 Kalon Tripa with Leader Pelosi Immediately following the hearing, the Kalon Tripa had a meeting with Democrat Leader Pelosi, a long and steadfast friend of Tibetans, and her staff, Jonathan Stivers.  Leader Pelosi expressed admiration for His Holiness in his move to transfer his political powers and welcomed the transition in Tibetan leadership to the next generation of Tibetans.
The day ended with an interview with Al Jazeera for their The Stream program.
Day five and the last day of the visit started off with interviews with VOA Mandarin service and with VOA Kunleng, the Tibetan television program.  Kalon Tripa also met with Washington Post, which published his op-ed on the unfolding tragedy in Tibet centered around the growing cases of Tibetans committing self-immolations.


The Kalon Tripa went up to Capital Hill again and this time he met with Representative Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington.  Congressman McDermott founded and is the Co-Chair of the India and Indian-Americans Caucus.  On the way to meeting the Congressman, the Kalon Tripa ran into Congressman Edward Markey from Massachusetts. The Congressman represents the district where the Kalon Tripa's family resides and the two had a good conversation in the hallway of the Longworth Building.


The final event of the day was a reception organized by the Capital Area Tibetan Association (CATA) both for the Kalon Tripa and Kirti Rimpoche.


The Kalon Tripa cast the spotlight on the spate of Tibetan self-immolations in all his meetings in D.C.  State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, came out with a statement on the self immolations in Tibet on November 4 and Secretary Clinton also brought up the Tibet situation in her meeting with the Chinese Foreign Ministers on November 11. Pasted, please find the two news articles.


For images and other related information on the Kalon Tripa's Washington, DC visit, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/kalontripa

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