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Dalai Lama Appears Before European Parliament - 2001-10-24

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, made an unprecedented appearance before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Dalai Lama appealed for humanity and non-violence to prevail, following the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Only one other religious leader has formally addressed the full European Parliament. That was in 1994, when Bartholomew I, the ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, spoke at the parliament's plenary session. Pope John Paul II was received in 1988, but as a head of state.

The Dalai Lama was given a standing ovation following his speech to the European lawmakers.

In his address, he condemned all violence, including warm as "a totally inappropriate means of settling disputes." Referring to the September 11 attacks in the United States, he said the world community must stress a so-called culture of dialogue and non-violence to resolve differences. That, the Dalai Lama said, is the challenge of the 21st century.

The Agence France-Presse news agency reported the Dalai Lama later praised the United States for trying to avoid civilians in its bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, he told journalists that talk remained the only long-term solution.

The Buddhist leader has steadily preached non-violence during his five-decade struggle for Tibetan autonomy from China. The 65-year-old Dalai Lama has remained in exile since 1959, nine years after China seized control of Tibet.

In his speech to the European Parliament, the Dalai Lama repeated accusations China was undermining Tibet's culture and religion, and was responsible for widespread human-rights violations. And he urged the international community to persuade China to accept what he described as a peaceful coexistence between China and Tibet.

The Dalai Lama's calls have won a sympathetic ear from European lawmakers. The parliament adopted a resolution 18 months ago that recommends recognizing an Indian-based Tibetan government in exile, if no negotiations between Beijing and the Dalai Lama took place within three years.