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Tibet-US-Parliament-2016Dharamshala — The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile expressed gratitude to US President Barack Obama for his government support for resolving the issue of Tibet and meeting His Holiness the the Dalai Lama at the White House on 15 June 2016, despite strong objections from the Chinese government.

"On behalf of Tibetans in and outside Tibet, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile sincerely express our heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellency for welcoming and meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 15th June, 2016 at the White House, despite strong objections from the Chinese Government and sad Orlando tragedy," Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile said in statement.

"We are immensely grateful for your continued support to our Middle Way Approach and for encouraging meaningful and direct dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences," Ven Tenphel said.

"We are thankful for you and your administration's expressions of concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet, preservation of our unique culture and protection of fragile environment of Tibet plateau," the statement reads.

"We once again thank the People, the Administration and the House of the United States of America for supporting the genuine cause of Tibetan people," he further added.

President Obama expressed his government support for the "Middle Way Approach", which seeks "a Genuine Autonomy" for all three traditional provinces of Tibet and encouraged "direct dialogue" between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives and Chinese authorities, despite a strong warning by China that it would "damage diplomatic relations."

The Chinese government expressed anger over the meeting and warned the US should that it may damage their diplomatic relationship. China regularly criticises His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the international community and claims he is dangerous separatist who is aiming to divide the country.

These claims have so far been unfounded and Beijing does not back them up with constructive evidence. The spiritual leader of Tibet has repeatedly said that separation and independence is not what he seeks, instead he wants a relationship with China and genuine autonomy for Tibet through an approach dubbed the 'Middle Way Approach'.

This policy means achieving autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China. His Holiness sees it is a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties.

Starting in 1949, Tibet was invaded by 35,000 Chinese troops who systematically raped, tortured and murdered an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans, one-fifth of the country's population. Since then over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed, and thousands of Tibetans have been imprisoned. According to different sources, it is estimated that up to 260,000 people died in prisons and labor camps between 1950 and 1984.

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