Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has expressed condolences for Pope John Paul, saying he had great respect and admiration for the Catholic leader.

The Dalai Lama said the pope's experience in Communist Poland helped give him a clear understanding of conditions in Tibet under Chinese rule.

The Tibetan leader said he developed a close personal friendship with the pontiff, after meeting on several occasions.

The Dalai Lama also praised John Paul for his mission to bring peace to the world and his frequent travels, despite the pontiff's failing health.

He says he and the pope shared a keen interest in promoting harmony among different religious traditions in an effort to spread a unified message of peace.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.