Dalai Lama to receive US Congressional Gold Medal

Saturday, October 13, 2007 File:Tenzin Gyatzo foto 1.jpg

14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso will arrive in the United States on Tuesday and will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush. On Wednesday he will attend a ceremony in his honor where he will be awarded the highest honor in the U.S. for a civilian, the Congressional Gold Medal.

This also marks an historical moment as it is the first time ever that a sitting U.S. President will appear with the Dalai Lama at a public event.

The honor has not gone without protest. China objected, accusing the Dalai Lama of "separatist activities." China also condemned a meeting with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the meeting a mistake and that relations between the two nations were damaged.

"We would hope that the Chinese leader would get to know the Dalai Lama as the president sees him, as a spiritual leader and someone who wants peace," said White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino.

The U.S. decided to award the Dalai Lama with the medal due to "his many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, nonviolence, human rights and religious understanding."

The Dalai Lama has been living in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 during a failed revolt against Chinese rule.