By ANGUS MCDONALD,
Associated Press Writer
GAYA, India – The Dalai Lama said Thursday that weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated but a peaceful solution should be found to avoid war in Iraq.
“I prefer (that) violence or war should not take place,” the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters before rituals marking the five-day Kalachakra Initiation, which has drawn tens of thousands of Buddhists this western Indian city.
Commenting on the threat of war by the United States and Britain if Iraq does not comply with U.N. resolutions ordering it to give up all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons development, the Dalai Lama said, “Producing weapons of mass destruction — that’s very bad.”
He said, “If there is some way to stop that, that’s in the interests of the Iraqi people and the whole area.”
Despite his anti-war stance, the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize said that war could sometimes bring benefits, for example the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan after a U.S.-led bombing campaign in 2001.
“Eventually it became quite clear the population of Afghanistan was not happy with the old regime so that war was something like liberation,” he said.
But he added, “I do not know what is the real feeling of the Iraqi people.”
The Kalachakra Initiation, one of the highest teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, is being held at the Bodh Gaya complex, the site where Buddhists believe the founder of their religion achieved enlightenment.
An estimated 150,000 devotees from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Western countries have attended the event, which began Jan. 12 with teachings by the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and established a government in exile in India in 1960.