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Dalai Lama leaves Dharamsala for US, Canada visit

September 22, 2009

Phayul -  September 21, 2009
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala: Exiled Tibetan leader his Holiness the Dalai Lama on Monday left
Dharamsala, his exile hometown in Northern India, for visit to the United
States and Canada that will begin on Wednesday.

During the almost three-week tour, the 74-year old Nobel Peace Laureate will
give series of Buddhist teachings and public talks, and will take part in
dialogues on peace and education. In both the countries, the Dalai Lama is a
popular public icon and enjoys a huge public following wherever he visits.

Earlier this morning, as the Dalai Lama was leaving his residential complex
for the local airport, hundreds of Tibetans and well-wishers had lined up
the road bearing traditional Tibetan greeting scarves (Khata), burning
incense and flowers to seek his blessing and wish him a successful visit.

The Dalai Lama is expected to begin his visit from Memphis, Tennessee, where
he will receive the International Freedom Award from the National Civil
Rights Museum on 23 September. The Dalai Lama was named for the award for
his "steadfast commitment to protecting and defending the rights of the
oppressed people of Tibet and elsewhere in the world."

Museum Board Chairman Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks reportedly described the exiled
Tibetan leader as a living example of Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi's
non-violence in the face of political oppression and suffering. "The Dalai
Lama demonstrates life-long peaceful struggle against brutality and
injustice. As the Tibetan people mark their 50th year in exile, the Dalai
Lama's struggle serves as an inspiration for social justice movements
everywhere," he said.

>From Sept 27 to Oct 3, the Dalai Lama will be in Canada. After Canada, His
Holiness will fly back to the US, where he will take part in events in New
York and Washington, DC.

However, while in Washington, DC, the much anticipated meeting with the US
President Barack Obama will not take place. When Dalai Lama last visited US
in May this year, speculation was rife over his possible meeting with
President Obama during his forthcoming visit to the US.

"During his stay in the US, there is no scheduled meeting between the Dalai
Lama and President Obama. He would meet Obama later sometime, after his
visit to China in November," Tenzin Takhla, joint secretary at the Dalai
Lama's office, told IANS.

Obama's top aides, including White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, were here
last week to meet the Dalai Lama and other top Tibetan leaders, including
Prime Minister of the Tibet's Government in exile Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche.

The Dalai Lama's office said the officials were here to brief the supreme
leader of the Tibetan people on the best way the US could assist in the
resolution of the Tibetan issue.

"She (Jarrett) reiterated President Obama's commitment to support the
Tibetan people in protecting their distinct religious, linguistic, and
cultural heritage and securing respect for their human rights and civil
liberties," the Dalai Lama's office said in a statement. Interestingly, the
statement went on to add that His Holiness was "looking forward to meeting
President Obama" after his first visit to China since becoming US President
eight months ago.

According to the statement, the Tibetan leader apprised the US officials
about the impasse on talks with the Chinese leadership on the future of
Tibet and expressed his keenness to restart the dialogue process.

According to Takhla "meeting President Obama after his China visit would be
more fruitful and constructive".
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