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Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will meet Dalai Lama, Governor Mark Dayton won't

President Barack Obama meets with the Dalai Lama at the White House
President Barack Obama meets with the Dalai Lama at the White House
White House

While Minnesotan Governor Mark Dayton thumbs down the invitation to celebrate Tibetan new year with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the newly elected Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges has accepted the invitation to accompany the Tibetan spiritual leader on Tibetan new year celebration which falls on March 2.

For the first time in his entire exile life, the Tibetan spiritual leader will be celebrating the Tibetan new year with Tibetan-Americans in Minnesota.

According to the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, the governor has rejected the invitation citing health issues. However, the Minneapolis mayor is not just going to attend the Tibetan new year but she is going to read “the Tibet Day proclamation in honour of the Dalai Lama and Tibet” on Tibetan new year according to Kalsang Phuntsok, one of the spokesmen of the Tibetan organisation.

“U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum are also confirmed to attend the Tibetan new year celebration,” said Kalsang Phuntsok.

A day before the Tibetan new year celebration, the Tibetan spiritual leader is scheduled to attend the 26th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum organized by the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and Augsburg college in St Paul, the capital city of Minnesota.

The Dalai Lama will also address, and take questions from a group of Chinese and Tibetan students in the state.

“As of now, 270 Chinese students are confirmed to attend the meeting with the Dalai Lama,” said Ngawang Chime, one of the core-organisers of the meeting with the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama had publicly stated that he and his people are willing to be under China if Beijing accepts his demand for a genuine autonomy.

Since adopting the policy of fighting for autonomy in late 1980s, the Dalai Lama believes building bridge with the Chinese public is the key to end the tragedy of people inside Tibet.

Chinese officials in Beijing often brand him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and his policy of “middle way approach” for a genuine autonomy as “independence in disguise”.

Saying that the Tibetan spiritual leader is trying to split Tibet from mainland China, Beijing urges world leaders not to meet with the Dalai Lama. However, despite China’s criticism, President Barrack Obama last Friday welcomed the Tibetan spiritual leader to the White House, and the two spent almost an hour discussing human rights issues in Tibet.