|Phayul[Thursday, October 18, 2012 14:48]|
Speaking to Phayul, Tashi, the Information Secretary of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration welcomed the visit and expressed hope that Ambassador Locke will speak out on his experiences of the visit.
“The CTA has been consistent in calling upon the Chinese government to allow fact-finding delegations and international media to visit Tibet,” Tashi said.
“We welcome Ambassador Gary Locke’s last month visit to Ngaba and hope that the honourable ambassador will speak to the international media about his experiences and the prevalent situation in the region.”
“We hope that this is the first of many more visits by international delegations to Tibet,” Tashi added.
In his first trip as ambassador to Tibet, Locke reportedly visited two Tibetan monasteries in the Zungchu region of Ngaba on September 26, as part of a broader trip to the region.
Zungchu is a safe 100 miles (160kms) east of Ngaba town, which has been at the centre of the ongoing wave of self-immolations.
In a response to The New York Times on his visit, published Wednesday, Ambassador Locke said he went to Ngaba to “see it for myself.”
“I was struck by the unique Tibetan culture and met many ethnic Tibetans to learn more about how they live and work, such as an 88-year-old monk at one of the monasteries I visited. Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society.”
He added, “I hope others will make the same visit.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the trip, although an embassy spokesman said that the trip was not made in secret and was known by Chinese officials.
US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland had broken the news on Locke’s visit earlier this week at a regular news conference in Washington DC.
Nuland said Ambassador Locke met with government officials and residents in Ngaba and visited villages and Buddhist monasteries to learn more about how Tibetans live and work.
She went on to reiterate "grave concern" by the US over the rising number of immolations and urged "better dialogue" between China and Tibet.
"We have grave concerns about self-immolations in Tibet and about the underlying grievances that the Tibetan people have. And we have consistently urged dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people with regard to those grievances," Nuland told reporters.
Earlier this month, China refused to grant permission to an official Australian delegation from visiting Tibet.
In March this year, Australian ambassador Frances Adamson had sought Beijing’s permission to visit Tibet to “examine the reasons” for the ongoing wave of the self-immolations in Tibet. Adamson had also requested the Chinese authorities to allow a visit by the Australian parliamentary delegation.
Tibet is currently closed to outside visitors and journalists with many areas reeling under an undeclared martial law.