Ahead of the Dalai Lama's [ Images ] visit to Arunachal Pradesh, a top United States official on Friday said the Tibetan spiritual leader was free to go anywhere as a religious figure.
"The Dalai Lama is a religious leader and he, of course, can travel to carry out that role," US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero said.
"He (Dalai Lama) is visiting a monastery, a holy place. And from our perspective, this is one of the roles that he plays," she said when asked about her reaction to China's protests over the Tibetan leader's visit to Tawang from Sunday.
Otero pointed out that US President Barack Obama [ Images ] was scheduled to visit China this month and Tibet [ Images ] would certainly be one of the issues that will be discussed with the Chinese leaders.
"One could sense that this issue (Tibet) could be under consideration in some of those meetings with China," she said to a query on Obama's impending visit and if the Tibetan issue would be taken up.
"But again, I cannot absolutely confirm how it is or what it is, but there is no doubt that this is an issue that we have. I certainly have been addressing it. I think that probably something ill emerge," Otero, who is also the US special coordinator for Tibet, said.
"Tibet is very much symbolised by Dalai Lama. He is a person highly revered in the US and highly regarded as a religious leader. President Obama has a lot of respect and consideration for the Dalai Lama," she added.
"The meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama will take place later in this year, which the latter accepted with full interest. No dates are established right now," Otero said.
Asked if she had discussed the Tibet issue with Indian leaders and officials during her meetings on Thursday, she replied in the negative.