- His Holiness the Dalai Lama was warmly welcomed by President Obama in Washington DC when participating for the first time in the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of Congressmen and Senators and attended and religious authorities from all over the world.
- It is the first time that the Dalai Lama and a U.S. President have been present together at a public event since the Tibetan religious leader was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
- President Obama reiterated the support of the US Government to the Dalai Lama saying: “I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, and inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings. I have been pleased to welcome him to the White House on many occasions and we are grateful to have him with us today on this occasion.”
- The invitation to the annual event, attended by religious representatives from all over the world, is a signal of the significance of the Tibet issue to the American government and society, and the Dalai Lama’s stature on the world stage. In a separate event, the Dalai Lama will engage in discussion today with Muslim leaders in Washington, DC (www.dalailama.com).
Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said:
“The attendance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the National Prayer Breakfast is indicative of his significance as a moral and religious leader to both American Government and the American people, as well as religious people worldwide. The words of appreciation publicly expressed for the first time by President Obama confirm the support of the American government to his peaceful advocacy.
At the same time it is sobering to reflect that while the Dalai Lama is welcomed at the highest levels in Washington, DC, in his homeland the Chinese authorities have engaged in an increasingly aggressive campaign against him – characterizing his teachings as incitement to terrorism – and repress religious freedom. China’s bullying tactics against the Nobel Prize Laureate and global icon of peace are not a sign of strength of a rising world power, but an indicator of insecurity, exposing only the lack of moral authority of the Communist Party state.”
The Chinese authorities objected to the presence of the Dalai Lama at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama. In a statement indicating the significance of the Tibet issue to the Beijing leadership, a Foreign Ministry official said on February 2 (2015): “Tibet-related issues bear on the core interests and national feelings of China”.
In Tibet, an increasingly aggressive campaign against the Dalai Lama includes punishment of Party members who are privately loyal to him indicates how seriously the Chinese government takes his enduring influence.
Notes for Editors
 A worldwide poll conducted recently showed that the Dalai Lama was one of the top ten most admired people in the world: http://www.savetibet.org/dalai-lama-one-of-top-ten-most-admired-people-in-the-world/