After embarking on a visit to Muslim, Jewish and Christian lands during his first official overseas tour, it is now "logical"for US President Donald Trump to visit the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, Tibet's prime minister in exile Lobsang Sangay has said.
Trump is scheduled to meet Nato leaders on Thursday (25 May). Earlier in the week, he visited Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine and also met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
"Donald Trump ... has been to all three major sacred places of three major traditions," Sangay said on Wednesday (24 May). "So what is left is Buddhism and his holiness the Dalai Lama is the most prominent Buddhist leaders in the world," Sangay.
The leader in exile is currently on a visit to Washington and was speaking at the Heritage Foundation think tank there, Reuters reports.
"If he [Trump] can meet with all leaders of major traditions, I think it's just logical that he meets the most prominent Buddhist leader," he said.
The Dalai Lama has met all the four previous US presidents, greatly angering China.
Beijing considers Tibet a breakaway province and has accused the Dalai Lama of promoting independence for Tibet from the rest of China. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk has been saying that he only wants a higher degree of freedom for his homeland Tibet. He fled his hometown after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
Although the Dalai Lama has not yet been invited to meet Trump, Sangay said: "We are Tibetans. We are perennially optimistic."
If Trump were to meet the spiritual leader, it could put in jeopardy negotiations with Beijing as the US is relying on China to do more to rein in an increasingly belligerent North Korea and its pursuit of nuclear and missile programme. Because of this it would be premature to talk about a meeting between Trump and the Buddhist monk, a Trump administration official told Reuters this week.
The Dalai Lama was reportedly planning to visit the US in April, but it was pushed to June because of a hectic schedule. Washington is still not part of the monk's June itinerary, Sangay said earlier this month.
China had recently asked Washington to "carefully handle" the Tibetan issue after top US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, visited the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in north India in a bid to draw attention to human rights in Tibet.
The lawmakers vowed to stand by the monk and not give up in their campaign to protect human rights in Tibet, much to the fury of Beijing.