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Washington: As China protested the meeting between a senior US diplomat and the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in India, Washington emphasized on the "enduring US support for the Tibetan people" and praised India's "extraordinary generosity" in supporting the Tibetans' religious freedom.

US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback met the Dalai Lama in Dharmshala on Monday.

Alice G. Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asia, in tweets said: "@IRF_Ambassador's meeting with His Holiness in Dharamsala emphasizes enduring U.S. support for the Tibetan people. India has greatly supported Tibetan religious freedom, and the U.S. stands in deep admiration of India's extraordinary generosity."

On the issue of a successor to the Dalai Lama, and China's stand on it, she said: "The Chinese Communist Party claim that Dalai Lama's succession "must comply with Chinese laws and regulations" is meritless. Tibetan communities, like all faith communities, should be able to select, educate, & venerate their religious leaders without government interference. AGW".

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, reacting to Brownback's visit, said on Tuesday: "We urge the US official to stop contacting the Dalai Lama clique, making irresponsible remarks and using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang said that Brownback's remarks violated the US' commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China and not support aTibet secession'.

On a successor to the Dalai Lama, Geng said the process "should follow (Chinese) national laws and regulations, religious rituals and historical conventions".

Brownback, during his meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader in Dharamsala, said the role of picking a successor to the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist system, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetan leaders. "It does not belong to anybody else, not any government or any entity", he is quoted as saying.

There have been concerns over the health of the 84-year-old Dalai Lama.

Brownback had also called on China to release the Dalai Lama-appointed Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whose whereabouts are not known.

"We call on the (People's Republic of China) government to release immediately the Tibetan-recognised Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or share the truth about his fate with the world," Brownback said.

The Panchen Lama is regarded in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy as second most important after the Dalai Lama. China has appointed a six-year-old boy as the Panchen Lama.

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