US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday met Tibetan monk Geshe Dorji Damdul, who serves as a representative of the Tibetan government in exile and is close to the Dalai Lama, in a move that is likely to provoke China.
Blinken met the monk during an interaction with civil society representatives in New Delhi, a representative of the Tibetan government in exile said.
The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama and thousands of followers fled to India in 1959 after China cracked down on an uprising in March of that year.
The government in exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), and the Dalai Lama live in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
The CTA is not recognized by any nation.
Damdul earlier served as an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. He is director of Tibet House in Delhi, which was set up by the Dalai Lama in 1965 to preserve and disseminate Tibetan culture.
Blinken’s meeting is expected to irk Beijing, which sees Tibet as an integral part of China and the Dalai Lama as a “splittist.”
Blinken arrived in India on Tuesday on a two-day visit during which he is holding meetings with top officials to discuss a range of issues, from vaccines to Afghanistan.
The issue of Tibet did not come up at the meeting with civil society representatives, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The issues discussed included inter-religious relations, media freedom, the ongoing farmers’ protests and minority rights.