McCain Meets With Dalai Lama


From CBS News' John Bentley:

John McCain met with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, today in Aspen, Colorado, as a way to show solidarity with the Tibetan spiritual leader in seeking autonomy from China. "The Dalai Lama has time and again emphasized that he asked only that the Tibetan people are provided with basic rights to preserve their culture, language and religious beliefs," McCain said. "I urge the Chinese leaders to engage in talks and make progress with his Holiness' representatives in addressing the just grievances of the Tibetan people. I urge the Chinese government to release Tibetan political prisoners, account for Tibetans that have, quote, disappeared since the protests in March and engage in meaningful dialogue and genuine autonomy for Tibet."

With the Beijing Olympics less than a month away, McCain sought to put pressure on the Chinese government to improve its record on human rights. "The United States welcomes good relations with China, but it does no service to the Chinese government and certainly no service to the people of China for the United States and other Democracies to pretend that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us," he said. "It does, will, and must concern us."

The Dalai Lama referred to McCain as his "old friend," but made it clear he was not endorsing him. "This time my visit is non-political," the Dalai Lama said. "He [is] showing genuine concern about the democracy and human rights and religious freedom and environmental issues in China in general and particularly in Tibet's case."