The Dalai Lama says that his death will be a "setback" for the Tibetan cause, but he has confidence in the leadership of the next generation of his followers.
Speaking to reporters in Rome while attending the World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet, the 74-year-old Buddhist leader said that "there's no doubt" that his death will be a setback, but the Tibetan struggle is bigger than one generation.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has been at the forefront of efforts for the past 50 years to expand rights for Tibetans in China. Chinese authorities accuse him of advocating separatism and encouraging sometimes violent protests inside Tibet, charges that he denies.
The Dalai Lama insists he wants to negotiate with China to provide a degree of cultural and political autonomy for Tibetans where they live in China, and not a separate state.
In recent days U.S. President Barack Obama called for the resumption of talks between Tibetan and Chinese envoys. The Dalai Lama welcomed the call, saying he knows U.S. interest in Tibet is strong, but said he understands there are limits to what the White House can say to China.
Mr. Obama declined to meet the Dalai Lama when the Buddhist leader visited Washington last month. The White House says the two will meet after Mr. Obama's trip to China. Critics say the White House delayed the meeting to avoid upsetting Beijing before his visit.
Because the Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, it often takes retaliatory action against countries whose leaders meet him.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.