The Dalai Lama speaks to the media as he walks to board his plane at the Taoyuan International Airport September 4, 2009 for a flight to Dehli, India. The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader branded by Beijing as a separatist, said on Thursday he was ready to negotiate with China on issues concerning his homeland but wanted to see a "green light". (Reuters)
Taipei, Sep 4 (DPA) - The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, ended his sensitive Taiwan visit Friday, leaving Taipei to mend the damage to its relations with Beijing from his visit.
Hundreds of Tibetans and Taiwan disciples saw off the Dalai Lama at the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei, and hundreds more waited for him at the Taoyuan International Airport outside Taipei.
At both the hotel and the airport terminal, dozens of supporters of Taiwan-China unification protested the Dalai Lama’s visit, but police removed them by force.
As the Dalai Lama was escorted into the airport terminal by a horde of body guards and police, a reporter shouted: “Do you think you can return to Tibet?”
Living in exile in India since 1959 and still barred from going home because China fears he seeks Tibet’s independence, the Dalai Lama turned his head and said: “We are always ready to return to Tibet. We are Tibetan, so of course we are. I am a Tibetan.”
He then flew back to India, where he has been leading the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala.
The Dalai Lama arrived Sunday in Taiwan to bless the survivors of Typhoon Morakot, which left nearly 700 people dead after it hit the island on Aug 8.
He visited typhoon disaster areas in southern Taiwan, comforted survivors and held a prayer meeting for typhoon victims attended by 15,000 people.
China twice protested the Dalai Lama’s visit and warned Taipei that the visit would damage Taipei-Beijing ties, which have been improving since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008.
To retaliate against Taiwan for allowing the visit, China has cancelled or postponed several delegations’ trips to Taiwan.
To avoid further angering China, Ma did not meet with the Dalai Lama, and the Dalai Lama’s second prayer meeting was cancelled.
The Dalai Lama previously visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2003 to promote Buddhism. Most Taiwanese are Buddhists including some followers of the Dalai Lama.