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Dalai Lama applauds Swiss for Tibet support

The Dalai Lama thanks Switzerland as he starts his visit

(Keystone)

The Dalai Lama has thanked the Swiss people for supporting Tibet after arriving in Switzerland for his 15th visit to the country.

At a news conference in Zurich on Tuesday, the Tibetan spiritual leader said he had a threefold commitment to promote human values, religious harmony and the rights of the Tibetan people.

Switzerland was the first European country to accept Tibetan refugees after the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in 1959. There is now a community of nearly 3,000 Tibetans and a Buddhist temple in Rikon, canton Zurich.

"I am very happy to be here once again in this country," said the Dalai Lama. "For more than 40 years it has been the home of Tibetans who were accepted by this country and have settled here".

"The Swiss government, the Red Cross and the public have been very helpful, sympathetic and supportive. The media, parliament and support groups have clearly shown their willingness to do something for Tibet and the Swiss government has sometimes helped behind the scenes".

"If you are very hungry and find even a small amount of food it is very good," he added, referring to his unsuccessful bid to gain independence for Tibet.

Chinese forces invaded Tibet in 1950, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee to India nine years later following an uprising.

The latest talks between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Beijing government officials on the future of Tibet took place at the Chinese embassy in Bern last month, said the Dalai Lama.

No Tibet solution

But he admitted talks have not yet borne fruit, despite him dropping his demand for full independence.

"Each meeting has become more cordial and useful. We have made some progress, but the Tibetan issue is very complex," he said. "Therefore the serious discussions over the main issue are not easy. But trust and confidence are more important, which has been positive," he said.

"I am not seeking separation, but I am working with China to try to find a mutual solution".

The Dalai Lama said he was unconcerned about the way his personality may be portrayed or with hero worship during his visit to Switzerland.

"I don’t care how other people treat me," he said. "Some people think of me as a god-king, but that is wrong. I am first and foremost a simple, normal human being. I recognise myself as a Buddhist monk, that’s all".

"As a Buddhist practitioner I should not concern myself or take interest in the way other people treat or regard me."

The Dalai Lama took part in an inter-religious meeting at Einsiedeln monastery later on Tuesday.

During his trip he will also deliver an eight-day series of lectures at the Hallenstadion in Zurich and is expected to meet Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Zurich

Key facts

The Dalai Lama will deliver lectures at the Hallenstadion between August 5-12.
He will also take part in symposiums at the University of Zurich on August 3 and at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) on August 4.
Switzerland is home to the world’s third largest Tibetan community.

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