|By Phurbu Thinley
Angela Merkel with the Dalai Lama in Berlin on Sunday, September 23, 2007. Despite China’s protest, Chancellor Merkel of Germany met with the exiled Tibetan leader at the Chancellery, making it the first historic visit of its kind. Merkel’s meeting with the Dalai Lama was reportedly praised by some senior officials in her party and from the opposition. (Photo by The Tibet Bureau, Geneva)See more pictures
Dharamsala, September 25: After a ground breaking visit to European countries, the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama today returned to his residential hill town of Dharamsala with the usual road-side line-up welcome by Tibetans and visiting tourists excited to catch a glimpse of him.
In more than two weeks of European tour, His Holiness visited Catalonia capital of Barcelona, Portugal, Austria and Germany.
During the tour His Holiness was officially received by the Chancellors of Austria and Germany at the respective Chancelleries despite drawing sharp protests from China as usual.
While meeting with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, on September 20, lasted for about 45 minutes, the meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 23 lasted for nearly one hour.
The visit to German Chancellery is His Holiness’ first visit in history.
In Barcelona, His Holiness was received by the Vice President of the local Catalonia government on September 10. His Holiness later addressed the Catalonia parliament's foreign affairs committee on the very same day.
His Holiness’ visit to Portugal was marked by his first Public teaching in Lisbon
and meeting with the former President of Portugal, Mr Jorge Sampio. While in Portugal His holiness visited the Portuguese national parliament and addressed the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets with Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer on 20 September in Vienna, Austria
China regularly reacts sharply to Dalai Lama’s visits to foreign countries and his occasional meetings with world leaders.
Despite persistent efforts to undermine him by Chinese authorities, Tibetans continue to revere the Dalai Lama as their spiritual and political leader, and continues to remain highly popular among Tibetans both in and outside Tibet.
Commenting on the Tibetan leader’s meeting with the German Chancellor, German government spokesman Thomas Steg said, “The German government believes that the Tibetan problem can only be solved by dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.”
Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama, in an interview with the German newspaper, reiterated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet, which was occupied by Chinese troops in 1950, but autonomy.
"We do not want independence ... but we should be granted a real form of autonomy," His Holiness was quoted as saying.
On Thursday, the Speaker of the 14th Tibetan parliament-in-Exile, in his opening speech to the 4th parliamentary session said that a full report of a comprehensive analysis of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue process by the Task Force review meeting held earlier this month would be submitted to His Holiness the Dalai Lama upon his return from Europe.
The latest sixth round of Sino-Tibetan dialogue was held between the Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership from 29 June to 5 July this year.