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Dalai Lama Leading an Interfaith Religious Service in San Francisco - 2003-09-07

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has started a 16-day visit to the United States, leading an interfaith religious service in San Francisco.

The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader joined representatives of 25 religions at the service, saying all faiths have the same basic aim - to help develop compassion among their followers.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama will dedicate a new interfaith temple in Bloomington, Indiana. The Dalai Lama's brother, retired Indiana University Professor Thubten Norbu, has been the director of a Tibetan cultural center in Bloomington since 1979.

The Dalai Lama will travel to Washington Monday for a four-day visit. Officials say he wants to express gratitude for continuing U.S. support for Tibet and for the human rights of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama is expected to meet with President Bush, other administration officials, and members of Congress during his Washington visit.

China's government has criticized the United States in the past for its support of the Dalai Lama. A Chinese government newspaper said earlier this week the visit could damage U.S. - China relations.