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US-Under-Secretary-Sewall-2014Dharamshala: - Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy freedom within the Communist nation, a top US diplomat has said after a recent meeting Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal.

The US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Sarah Sewall, who is also Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights talked of her assessment of human rights conditions in Tibet during an interaction with reporters at the Washington Foreign Press Center, Washington, D.C. on Monday.

During her trip to the two countries, she met with Tibetan refugees in both the countries and gained first-hand information about the situation in Tibet from them.

"In my role as special coordinator for Tibet, of course, I had a parallel agenda in visiting both in Nepal and in India, and the focus on refugees was paramount in both countries," Sewall told reporters.

"I met with both communities and NGO leaders who were working with refugee populations to help them better realize their potential in terms of their human capacity," she said.

"As partners in a national effort to develop and grow and maintain their culture and religion within an environment that has varying degrees of support for that practice."

Sewall said she met with "both the refugees themselves and with those working with the refugees to learn more about their aspirations, about some of our exchange programs, and about the infrastructure that supports refugees as they live within both Nepal and in India."

Sewall also met the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader, where she also had a wide range of discussions with the Dalai Lama.

"I'm interested in hearing his views about religious extremism within Buddhist movements globally and what can be done to promote tolerance," she said.

I am "interested in learning more about the remarks – that he has made in – on the public record about potential discussions with the Chinese, about different issues that are of concern to him."

She met the Tibetan spiritual leader in his capacity "as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader."

"I spent much of my time talking to refugees and talking to the organisations that welcome and work with refugees about the situation in China, because they tend to have more recent stories," Sewall said.

"I met with several people who had left China recently, and I spoke to many people who have family in China," she added.

"Their assessment of the situation tracks very much with the State Department's assessment of the situation, as recorded in our human rights reporting - that there is not a degree of freedom for Tibetans within China that we think is consistent with international human rights standards," the top US diplomat said.

"We spoke about non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, to include the questions of preserving Tibetan culture, religion, and education in every place that Tibetans currently reside," she said.

"That's a very wide-ranging discussion that, of course, also includes concerns about the refugee community with whom he works closely," she added.

She said her Government has spent an enormous amount of its resources and its energy seeking to support particularly Tibetan refugees. Sewall also announced a new $3.2 million USAID grant in Nepal to help modernize the health system for Tibetan refugees.

Encouraging a "direct dialogue" that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans, the Obama administration however says it supports the "Middle-Way Approach" which is proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet and to bring about stability and co-existence between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples based on equality and mutual co-operation.

On several occasions, the US President Obama reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in Tibet.

But, Obama reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet "is part of" China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government will resume and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans.

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