US seeks ''free passage to India'' for Tibetan refugees in Nepal

Posted By: Pti
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Kathmandu, Feb 15 (PTI) The United States hasexpressed concern over problems being faced by Tibetanrefugees in Nepal, as it asked Kathmandu to provide theBuddhist community "free passage to India" as per global humanrights obligations.

Maria Otero, US Under Secretary of State for Democracyand Global Affairs Maria, raised the problems being faced bythe exiled Buddhist community in Nepal during a meeting withPrime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal yesterday.

Otero, who also serves as the Special Coordinator forTibetan issues, underlined the need for the government totreat Tibetan refugees as per international human rightsobligations.

"We made it clear that this is an important issue forus and that we are concerned about. And we will proceed tolook at it very carefully," Otero was quoted as saying by theRepublica newspaper today.

The US called on Nepal to honour the UN-brokered"gentlemen�s agreement" on Tibetans fleeing their homeland.

She raised the issue of free passage for the refugees fromTibet.

"There is a stable practice while dealing with Tibetanissues which ensures providing them free passage to India,"the US envoy was quoted as saying by the Kantipur online.

She highlighted the problems faced by the Tibetanshere, according to Milan Tuladhar, Prime minister�s foreignrelations advisor.

"We will deal with the issue taking into account theconcerns of our immediate neighbours -- China and India," theprime minister was quoted as saying by Tuladhar.

Earlier the top US official visited Tibetan ReceptionCenter in the capital and met with Tibetan refugees, some ofwhom are awaiting clearance for going to Dharamshala, wheretheir spiritual leader Dalai Lama is based since fleeing fromhis motherland in 1959.

Nepal is home to around 20,000 exiled Tibetans and thecapital has been the scene of several anti-China agitationsfor freedom and human rights in Tibet.

Theses protests have been a source of embarrassment tothe government here, which wants strong ties with China.

Nepal supports "one-China policy" that views Tibet asan integral part of China. It has repeatedly assured its giantnorthern neighbour that it will not allow its territory to beused against Beijing.

Despite tight security enforced by the Nepalese andChinese government in the border areas, every year some 2,500Tibetans cross the border on their way to meet the Dalai Lama

Over the last several years, Nepal has stepped upsecurity and warned Tibetans exiles against organizingprotests against China in the country.

However, Nepal has been under pressure from Westernnations to allow these protests. PTI

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