Dalai Lama and Qaddafi

After Barack Obama’s trip to China next month, he will be meeting with the Dalai Lama, whose golden website carries the following press release:

US President Barack Obama’s emissary, Valerie Jarrett, called on His Holiness the Dalai Lama on September 13 & 14. She was accompanied by State Department Under Secretary Maria Otero, who she introduced formally to His Holiness as the designated new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.

Ms. Jarrett, who is a Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Obama, conveyed the President’s greetings to His Holiness and informed him that she was sent to brief him about the Obama Administration’s approach to the Tibetan issue.

She reiterated President Obama’s commitment to support the Tibetan people in protecting their distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage and securing respect for their human rights and civil liberties. She said the President commends the Dalai Lama for being consistent in looking for a solution based on Tibetan autonomy within the People’s Republic of China.

His Holiness gave an overview of the situation of the Tibetans in exile. He informed Ms. Jarrett of the measures taken by the Tibetans in India to preserve and promote the distinct Tibetan culture and identity through the kind and generous assistance of people and government of India.

He also updated Ms. Jarrett on the status of the dialogue process with the Chinese leadership, including the presentation of a comprehensive Memorandum on Tibetan autonomy to the Chinese leadership during the eighth round of discussions in October-November 2008. Ms. Jarrett discussed with His Holiness on the best way the United States could assist in the resolution for the Tibetan issue, particularly in the light of the first visit by President Obama to China in November. His Holiness conveyed to Ms. Jarrett the issues that he would like President Obama to take when he visits China. His Holiness also conveyed his strong belief that the United States and China need to have very good and principled relations.

His Holiness greatly appreciated President Obama’s concern for the situation in Tibet and said he was hopeful that during his presidency the Tibetan people can see progress in the resolution of their problem. His Holiness is looking forward to meeting President Obama after his visit to China.

His Holiness welcomed the decision to appoint Under Secretary Maria Otero as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and said he looked forward to working with her.

Otero is an expert on microcredit who now has the Tibet portfolio in the State Department.  One other interesting aspect here, other than the fact that Jarrett is one of Obama’s top confidantes and was clearly charmed by the Dalai Lama, is the discussion of India, which is where of course the meeting took place.  Tibet’s role in the U.S.-China-India triangle doesn’t get enough discussion in media outside of India, but it is important.  At a time when the U.S. is facing another, sub-rosa, Indo-Pakistani proxy war in Afghanistan (at least a battle there for influence), it will be interesting and significant to watch how the Tibet issue plays out in the Obama presidency.  Hillary Clinton’s basic and public disinterest in human rights issue on her first visit to the PRC boded ill for the Tibetans, but we may well see a swing back to a more overtly pro-Tibet posture by the Obama administration in spite of the need for Chinese cooperation on a host of other issues being discussed today at the U.N.

In another story just posted on the New York Times, Libyan leader Mohmar Qaddafi gave a speech at the U.N. this morning, going well over his allotted 15 minutes.  The report is rather colorful:

Wearing a traditional copper-colored outfit and a pin in the shape of Africa on his chest, Colonel Qaddafi gestured and glowered, with occasional reference to scrawled written notes, and at one point grabbed an audio device to check how his words were being translated. Ali Abdussalam Treki, the Libyan diplomat, who now holds the rotating presidency of the security council, introduced him as “leader of the revolution, president of the African Union, King of Kings of Africa.”

An hour into his address, he began calling for investigations into each of the major wars that have taken place since the United Nation’s founding: the Korean War, the war over the Suez Canal, the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq, which he called “the mother of all evils.”

The Afghan war, too, he said, should be investigated for possible prosecution. At times, Colonel Qaddafi veered into conspiracy, saying, for example, that the H1N1 influenza virus, also called swine flu, might be a military or corporate weapon that got out of a lab and intimating an Israeli hand behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said, should be solved by the creation of a single state, which Mr. Qaddafi calls Israteen, but Mr. Qaddafi stressed it is wrong to infer that Arabs hate the Jews. “You are the ones who burned them, not us. You expelled them,” he said, referring apparently to European nations.

For Mr. Obama personally, however, he had only warm words, calling on the collected nations to welcome “our son” on the occasion of his first United Nations appearance. “We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as the president of America,” he said, saying he feared America would return to its old ways after the end of his term.

A U.N. investigation of the Korean War?  Now there is something to consider!

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