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Buddhist monk among Blinken’s meet with civil society leaders

New Delhi : US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday began his India visit by meeting civil society leaders and prominently shared a photograph of a Buddhist monk in maroon robes, in a move that is sure to rile China.

“I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The US and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values,” Blinken tweeted, with photographs of the meeting.

While the people he met with were representatives of different faiths, the photograph of a Buddhist monk, reported to be from the Central Tibetan Administration, was prominently shared.

In his address to the civil society leaders, Blinken said that the relationship between the US and India was “one of the most important in the world”.

“I’m really here to underscore the importance of the relationships between our countries, to try to deepen our ties and extend our cooperation. I think it’s hard to find countries with more – who do more together in more different areas than with the United States and India,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Joe Biden administration had said that China should have no role in the succession of the Dalai Lama.

“We believe that the Chinese government should have no role in the succession process of the Dalai Lama,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said in March and termed the Chinese effort to impose its successor “an outrageous abuse of religious freedom.”

Earlier, this month Prime Minister Narendra Modi had wished the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday and put it prominently on his Twitter account.

In December last year, former US President Donald Trump had signed into law a bill to establish a US consulate in Tibet. He had also called for an international coalition to ensure that the next Dalai Lama is solely appointed by the Tibetan Buddhist community, without Chinese interference.


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