The Dalai Lama has received an award in Washington honoring his work for human rights around the world.
The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, presented the Dalai Lama with the first-ever Lantos Human Rights Prize on Tuesday. The award is from the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
Pelosi said the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has fought for human rights with courage, passion and humility.
"The bonds of friendship between the United States and His Holiness and the Tibetan people are strong and durable as ever," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the ceremony.
Senator John McCain said the Dalai Lama is an example of moral leadership for serving a cause greater than himself.The award was established in honor of the late U.S. House Representative Tom Lantos, who was a key supporter of Tibetan rights and instrumental in inviting the Dalai Lama to speak before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1987.
At Tuesday's event in the U.S. Capitol building, the spiritual leader said it is a privilege to receive an award named for his friend who worked to promote human rights.
The Dalai Lama is on a five-day visit to the U.S. capital. He is scheduled to meet with lawmakers and the State Department's new coordinator for Tibetan issues, but he will not meet with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit.
The spiritual leader's top envoy, Lodi Gyari, said the Dalai Lama and President Obama had agreed to meet after a U.S.-China summit in November. Gyari said the Dalai Lama hopes a cooperative U.S.-Chinese relationship will help support Tibet's interests.
This is the first time since 1991 that the Dalai Lama will be in Washington and not meet with the U.S. president.
Supporters of the Dalai Lama have said they consider the lack of a meeting a slight by the Obama administration, which is trying to improve relations with China.
The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and often takes retaliatory action against countries whose leaders meet with the exiled leader.