Washington: Republican Representative Michael McCaul is expected to lead a bipartisan US congressional delegation to India in the coming days, where he and other lawmakers, including Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, plan to meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

McCaul, Pelosi and a group of other US lawmakers will visit Dharamsala – the town in the northern Indian Himalayas where the 88-year-old Tibetan monk lives in exile – from June 18-19, an official of the Tibetan government in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration, told Reuters.

The meeting comes days ahead of a planned trip by the Dalai Lama to the US to undergo medical treatment for his knees, but it is unclear whether he will have any engagements during that time.

US lawmakers have regularly visited Dharamshala and touted the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama’s work to draw global support for linguistic and cultural autonomy in his remote, mountainous homeland. China considers him a dangerous separatist.

The lawmakers’ trip is likely to coincide with a separate visit to India by top Biden administration officials, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who have sought to boost US-India ties amid Washington’s growing rivalry with Beijing.

McCaul’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Pelosi’s office said it could not confirm or deny any upcoming travel due to longstanding security policies.

Spokespersons for the US State Department and the White House National Security Council did not immediately respond when asked about Sullivan and Campbell’s trip and whether they planned to meet the Dalai Lama, or whether President Joe Biden or other US officials would meet him in the US

The Dalai Lama has met US officials, including US presidents, during previous visits to the US, but Biden has not met him since taking office in 2021.

As a candidate in 2020, Biden criticised Donald Trump for being the only president in three decades who had not met or spoken with the Tibetan spiritual leader, calling it “disgraceful.”

Any such engagement would likely anger Beijing at a time when the US and China have sought to stabilise rocky ties.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. Chinese officials chafe at any interaction he has with officials from other countries.

Last week, China’s Washington embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said Beijing “firmly opposes any anti-China separatist activities conducted by Dalai in any capacity or name in any country, and opposes any forms of contact by officials of any country with him.”

(With Agency Inputs)