The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Wednesday ended a tour of the United States that took him to five U.S. cities and included a meeting with President Bush.
During his visit, the Dalai Lama met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as leaders of Congress. He also gave many speeches, including an address to tens of thousands of people in New York's Central Park.
In an interview with the Tibetan Service of Voice of America on the day of his departure, the Dalai Lama re-affirmed his willingness to meet with the Chinese leadership to discuss the status of Tibet, which China has occupied since the early 1950s.
The Dalai Lama says that he has reiterated, like a mantra, that he is not seeking independence or trying to separate Tibet from China. He says he is only seeking genuine autonomy for Tibet. But the Chinese leadership has had a hard time understanding his position. Therefore, in order to clear up this suspicion, he says a face to face meeting is very important.
In his September 10 meeting with President Bush, the Dalai Lama thanked the U.S. leader for the support he had received from the United States for his effort to start a dialogue with Chinese officials.
One of the highlights of his visit was the Dalai Lama's speech in Central Park, where he addressed a crowd of about forty thousand people. Calling war "legalized violence," he told the audience he wished he had been able to visit Iraq before the fighting began. To prevent future wars, he called for greater dialogue between countries.
New York was the last of five cities the Tibetan spiritual leader visited during his twenty days in the United States.
In addition to New York and Washington, he visited San Francisco, California, Bloomington, Indiana and Boston, Massachusetts. While in Boston, he spoke to the Harvard community and addressed scientists and scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.