- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

DHARAMSALA, India (AP) — Walking arm-in-arm with the Dalai Lama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lent her support yesterday to the Tibetan cause, calling China’s crackdown in Tibet “a challenge to the conscience of the world.”

Mrs. Pelosi was the first major foreign official to meet with the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader since protests against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, and she got a warm welcome in his hilltop headquarters in northern India.

“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” Mrs. Pelosi told thousands of cheering Tibetans, including monks and schoolchildren.

The California Democrat called for an international investigation into the violence in Tibet and dismissed China’s claim that the Dalai Lama was behind the unrest as making “no sense.”

The Dalai Lama, who has based his exile community in Dharamsala for nearly 50 years, has urged Tibetans to refrain from violence in their protests. He also expressed dismay over assaults on Han Chinese living in Tibet, while also strongly criticizing China’s violent crackdown.

Yesterday, China issued a “Most Wanted” list of 21 rioters — shown in grainy cell-phone and security photos waving knives and fighting during last week’s violence as thousands of troops continued to push into western China.

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