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Dalai Lama says controversial visit 'a duty'

China reiterates opposition to possible Obama-Dalai meet
Beijing (AFP) Nov 11, 2009 - China reiterated its opposition Wednesday to meetings between foreign officials and the Dalai Lama, after an aide to Barack Obama said the US leader would meet the Tibetan monk "at an appropriate time". "China is staunchly opposed to contact between the Dalai and officials of foreign governments," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said when asked about possible talks between Obama and the exiled spiritual leader. "Our position is consistent and clear."

Obama will likely raise the issue of Tibet when he visits Beijing next week and will meet the Dalai Lama "at an appropriate time," Jeffrey Bader, a senior aide to Obama on Asia policy, said this week. "The president will raise human rights concerns directly with President Hu (Jintao) in his meetings," Bader said. "I have every reason to expect that the issue of Tibet will come up on the trip." The White House has said Obama would meet the Dalai Lama later this year, but only after he pays his first presidential visit to China, with which the administration has been building warm relations. The Dalai Lama fled Chinese-ruled Tibet more than 50 years ago and is seen by Beijing as a separatist seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland -- an accusation that the Buddhist monk has repeatedly denied.
by Staff Writers
Tawang, India (AFP) Nov 11, 2009
The Dalai Lama said religious "duty" compelled him to make his visit to a Buddhist region near India's disputed Himalayan border with Tibet that has infuriated China.

In an interview broadcast on India's Times Now news channel on Wednesday, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader regretted that his trip to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which has stoked tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, had been over-politicised.

"This trip actually is usual, but this time it is too much politicised," he said in Tawang, site of the second largest Tibetan monastery in India.

"It is sad. I am a Buddhist monk. All my conduct is basically non-political. It is my duty to come and explain and teach Buddhism," he said.

Since arriving in Tawang on Sunday, the Dalai Lama has drawn daily crowds numbering in the tens of thousands for a series of mass religious teachings.

China, which claims most of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, has condemned the visit as an attempt by the Dalai Lama to destabilise Indo-Chinese ties.

On Tuesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said the Dalai Lama's presence in Arunachal "fully exposed" his "anti-Chinese nature".

China has long accused the Dalai Lama of seeking to split up China by campaigning for an independent Tibet -- a charge he denies.

The Indian government has said that the Nobel laureate, who has lived in exile in the country for 50 years, is free to travel where he wishes.

Arunachal was the Dalai Lama's point of entry into India when he fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and he recalled the time he spent recuperating in Tawang monastery from the gruelling journey.

"I was physically weak from dysentery," he said, remembering an overwhelming sense of "hopelessness" at being forced to leave his homeland.

"The sort of physical and mental level was very difficult but local people and officials extended a very, very warm welcome."

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Dalai Lama tours near Tibet as Beijing fumes
Tawang, India (AFP) Nov 10, 2009
The Dalai Lama on Tuesday held a second mass prayer meeting close to India's border with Tibet, as China took a fresh swipe at his week-long tour of the Arunachal Pradesh region. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told tens of thousands of devotees gathered in Tawang that Tibetan Buddhism faced great difficulties but that their "religion and culture would survive the challenges." ... read more

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