The meeting took place a few days after the Chinese President’s first ever visit to Tibet in the last 30 years

In a strong message to China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who is on a two-day visit to New Delhi on Wednesday met Geshe Dorji Damdul, former aide of Tibetan Spiritual Leader Dalai Lama in New Delhi.

Damdul, who is also the Director of Tibet House in Delhi, was a part of a group of civil society leaders who met US Secretary of State Blinken, currently on a two-day visit to India.

In a twitter post by the US Secretary of State, Blinken is seen interacting with civil society leaders including Damdul, the former aide of the Dalai Lama.

“I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The U.S. and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values,” Blinken’s twitter post said.

The meet is expected to irk Beijing, which considers Tibet as an integral part of China.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of strained Beijing and Washington ties.

Moreover, it has taken place just a few days after Chinese President’s first ever visit to Tibet in the last 30 years.

Xi Jinping, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, met top officials of the Tibet Military Command and reviewed development projects in the region.

Since becoming President in 2013, Xi has pursued a firm policy of stepping up security control of Tibet. Beijing has been cracking down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama, who despite his exile remains a widely admired spiritual leader in the remote Himalayan region.

China is accused of suppressing Tibetans' cultural and religious freedom. It was in 1950 that Chinese troops occupied Tibet and later annexed it. The 1959 Tibetan uprising saw violent clashes between Tibetan residents and Chinese forces.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India after the failed uprising against Chinese rule in the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan Buddhist leader, established a government-in-exile in India.

There are at present more than 10,000 Tibetans living in Dharamsala alone, and an estimated 160,000 Tibetan exiles around the world.