The U.S. ambassador to China made a surprise visit to Tibet, where Buddhist monks have been burning themselves to death to protest Chinese rule.
He met with Tibetan government officials and residents in Ngaba and also visited Buddhist monasteries, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said this week.
Mr. Locke’s visit was related to Washington’s distress over the number of monks who have set themselves on fire in a campaign for Tibetan independence, she added.
Fifty-five Tibetans have immolated themselves since February 2009.
“We have grave concerns about self-immolations in Tibet and about the underlying grievances that the Tibetan people have,” Mrs. Nuland told reporters at a daily news conference. “And we have consistently urged dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people with regard to those grievances.”
The exiled Tibetan government, headed by the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, India, welcomed Mr. Locke’s visit.
“We hope that this is the first of many more visits by international delegations to Tibet,” a spokesman, identified only as Tashi, told Phayul.com, a pro-independence news website.
Politics of Benghazi
Most U.S. voters believe President Obama damaged his re-election campaign by his response to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where terrorists killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, according to a survey this week from respected pollster Scott Rasmussen.
Mr. Rasmussen found that 51 percent of 1,000 likely voters who responded to his poll said the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens will hurt Mr. Obama.
Just 35 percent approved of the president’s handling of the aftermath of the attack on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. That finding is down 9 points from the 44 percent approval rating for Mr. Obama in a Rasmussen poll shortly after the attack.