(BEIJING) — The U.S. ambassador to China urged Beijing to engage in substantive dialogue with exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama during a visit to the Himalayan region over the past week, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.

Terry Branstad also “expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to organize and practice their religion,” an embassy statement said.

“He encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences,” it said.

Branstad also raised long-standing concerns about the lack of consistent access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The rare visit to the TAR and neighboring Qinghai province ran from Sunday through Saturday.

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