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Dalai Lama Offers Prayers for Storm Victims, Support for Taiwan Democracy བོད་སྐད།

  • Thibault Worth

The Dalai Lama has held a prayer ceremony at a sports stadium in Taiwan, and later gave a speech in which he reiterated his praise of Taiwan's democracy.

Wearing his trademark gold and red robes, the Dalai Lama prayed before more than 10,000 people in the Kaohsiung sports arena.

Many attendees lay on the floor out of respect for victims of Typhoon Morakot. The storm may have killed more than 600 people last month.

The Dalai Lama met privately with leaders of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party who invited him to Taiwan. He told DPP officials his visit is humanitarian, a statement he has made several times since his arrival Sunday.

The Dalai Lama also gave a two-hour televised speech before a largely Buddhist audience. The Tibetan spiritual leader praised Taiwan's democracy, as he did Monday before visiting villages devastated by the typhoon. He also said Buddhist philosophy could be helpful in geopolitics, by helping countries accept others' positions.

"Love not only yourself, but your neighbor. Love your enemies who have different points of view, who have a different political agenda. That is the only way."

Beijing's communist government accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to create an independent Tibet. The Dalai Lama denies the charge and says he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom and autonomy, for Tibetans.

China opposes the Dalai Lama's visit to Taiwan, and accuses the DPP of inviting him for political purposes. But Beijing has made no public denouncements of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, who has worked to improve relations with China since taking office last year.

China claims Taiwan as its territory. The island has been self-ruled since Nationalists fled there in 1949, after losing a civil war to the communists.

The Dalai Lama will return to his home in India on Friday.

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