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US House passes resolution to allow Capitol to host ceremony to bestow medal on Dalai Lama

September 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (AP) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday to allow the use of the U.S. Capitol rotunda for a ceremony next month to bestow Congress' highest civilian honor on the Dalai Lama.

The resolution also would permit the International Campaign for Tibet to sponsor a related ceremony for Tibet's exiled spiritual head on the Capitol grounds on Oct. 17. The House voted last year to award the Dalai

Lama the Congressional Gold Medal.

The congressional ceremony would rankle China, whose government has increasingly sought to direct Tibetan Buddhism, for centuries the basis of Tibet's civil, religious, cultural and political life.

China denounced the House vote last year to bestow the gold medal on the Dalai Lama and condemned his receipt in 1989 of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharmsala, India, since he fled Tibet amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

China has held a centuries-old claim on Tibet, a Himalayan region west of the main Chinese territory. It enforced that claim with a military invasion in 1951.

Mary Beth Markey, vice president of the International Campaign for Tibet, called the congressional award the most significant international tribute to the Dalai Lama since the Nobel Prize nearly 20 years ago.

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