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Upstaged by Obama, McCain to meet Dalai Lama
John Byrne
Published: Thursday July 24, 2008

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As Sen. Barack Obama continues his whirlwind tour of Europe -- he is now in Berlin -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has announced he will "step off the trail" tomorrow to meet with Tibetan exile and freedom fighter Dalai Lama.

He will meet the spiritual leader in Aspen, Colorado, a McCain aide told Politico Thursday morning. The Dalai Lama is presenting at a three-day Aspen Institute conference billed as "A Celebration of Tibetan Culture."

The move seems designed to draw national press back to McCain's campaign. As Beijing is set to hold the summer Olympic games, the Lama's meeting takes on a greater significance, since he's controversial in China over his efforts to draw attention to China's activity in Tibet. After a recent uprising in Tibet, the internationally recognized activist said he would consider resigning if violence did not abate.

Tibet has long sought independence from China; in recent years, the Lama has moderated his position so as not to demand full Tibetan autonomy. He lives in exile.

"McCain has been outspoken about the Chinese crackdown in the Tibetan region, issuing a statement earlier this year praising the The Dalai Lama and urging the Beijing to begin a 'genuine dialogue' with the spiritual leader," notes Politico.

"I urge the Chinese authorities to ensure peaceful protest is not met with violence, to release monks and others detained for peacefully expressing their views and to allow full outside access to Tibet," McCain said in March.