Maria Otero and Lodi Gyari

Maria Otero, with Lodi Gyari, the former Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy, has been named the new special coordinator for Tibetan issues.

The International Campaign for Tibet welcomes the appointment of Under Secretary Maria Otero as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, announced today by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The appointment of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues is mandated by the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 and is an indication of the United States’ commitment to a negotiated resolution on Tibet that preserves the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of the Tibetan people.

Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations for the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “Under Secretary Otero’s demonstrated commitment to social justice and active involvement in the global arena is welcomed as she assumes her new role. The Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues is fundamental to US engagement on Tibet, and a key component to promoting dialogue between the Dalai Lama and his representatives and the Chinese government.”

Under Secretary Otero recently joined Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor and emissary of President Obama for consultations with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India in advance of the US-China Summit in November in Beijing (ICT press release, President Obama sends delegation to meet Dalai Lama in Dharamsala).

Under Secretary Otero concurrently serves as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, a position also previously held by Paula Dobriansky, the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues under the Bush Administration.

During her confirmation hearing on June 25, 2009 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ms. Otero stated that the Obama administration was “disappointed by the lack of progress during eight rounds of talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives,” adding that “substantive dialogue…holds out the best hope for progress in addressing the legitimate, longstanding, concerns of Tibetans, which have been a key factor in recent unrest.”

Among the responsibilities of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues as outlined in the Tibet Policy Act of 2002, Under Secretary Otero will work to promote “substantive dialogue” between the Dalai Lama or his representatives and the government of the People’s Republic of China, as well as coordinate United States government policies, programs and projects related to Tibet.

Before accepting her appointment as Under Secretary of State, Ms. Otero served as the CEO of ACCION International, a leading microfinance organization dedicated to alleviating global poverty.