Tibet's self-declared government-in-exile President Lobsang Sangay on Tuesday thanked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for making a strong call to China for the release of the second-highest holy monk, the Panchen Lama.
Thanking the US Secretary of State "for not only consistently supporting the Tibet issue, but also making a call for the Panchen Lama in the strongest words ever in a long time", Sangay said in a statement that "this shows the US' unwavering solidarity with the Tibetan people".
Referring to the global call on China to release the Panchen Lama, Sangay said, "It sends a strong message to the Chinese government that the international call for Panchen Lama is stronger than ever and will continue to campaign for his release until he is able to return to his rightful place at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet."
The statement reiterated the US' concerns over China's ongoing campaign to eliminate the religious, linguistic and cultural identity of Tibetans.
Pompeo said, "The Panchen Lama is one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism with spiritual authority second only to the Dalai Lama. But China's persecution of the Panchen Lama is not unusual.
"The United States remains deeply concerned about the PRC's ongoing campaign to eliminate the religious, linguistic and cultural identity of Tibetans, including through the ongoing destruction of communities of worship and learning, such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Buddhist Institutes."
"We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Panchen Lama's whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons," Pompeo added.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima on May 14, 1995, as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. Within three days of the announcement, he was abducted, making him one of the youngest political prisoners in the world.
The Dalai Lama has been living in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in this northern hill town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh..