Aspen, Colo,: US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has expressed his highest respect and support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, while regretting that travel schedules prevented him from a meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
"I regret that our respective travel schedules will prevent us from meeting during your visit to the United States this month, but I wanted to take the opportunity to reassure you of my highest respect and support for you, your mission and your people at this critical time," noted a letter from senator Obama dated 24 July.
"I hope that this letter and your meeting with Senator McCain will make clear that American attention to and backing for the people of Tibet is widespread and transcends the divisions of our political contest in this important election year," he added.
He further said: "I was heartened to read of the continuing dialogue between your representatives and the government of the People's Republic of China. Although progress is likely to be slow, and the travails of the people of Tibet will continue, I am hopeful that the process of dialogue and negotiation will bring positive results if both sides demonstrate good intentions and mutual respect. I remain optimistic that this process will continue beyond the Beijing Olympics, and pledge that I will continue to support it."
"The right to practice their religious beliefs without punishment or obstruction is one that should be accorded the people of Tibet, and I will continue to encourage the Chinese government to put aside its suspicions and act in accordance with its own constitution," he added.
Senator Obama said: "I will continue to support you and the rights of Tibetans. People of all faiths can admire what you are doing and what you stand for, and I look forward to meeting you at another time."
Former US Ambassador Jeffrey Bader delivered the letter to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a meeting at Aspen Institute on 26 July.
Earlier on Friday, Republican presidential candidate John McCain met His Holiness the Dalai Lama and urged the Chinese government to engage in meaningful dialogue on genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Senator McCain also called on China to release Tibetan political prisoners, account for Tibetans who have, quote, 'disappeared' since protests in March.
He also said His Holiness the Dalai Lama is merely seeking basic rights to preserve Tibetan culture, language and religion.
"I'm so disappointed by repeated statements by Chinese officials that ascribe to the Dalai Lama views and actions divorced from what he actually represents. Such rhetoric doesn't serve a cause of peaceful change and reconciliation," senator McCain said.
Report prepared by Mr Bhuchung K Tsering. Editing by Lobsang CHOEDAK