Madrid, Spain, 9 September 2007 (AP) - The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, defended democracy as a means of decision-making for his native Tibet at a press conference Sunday in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
The exiled leader, who is in Spain to open a new Tibet House Foundation headquarters, said it was up to the Spanish people to resolve their own regional issues.
'I think that is up to you, no?' the Dalai Lama said when asked how Spanish regions could best achieve self-determination. 'Democracy allows for freedom of expression and for the free election of parties,' he said.
He also said his own fate was up to the people of Tibet.
'The future of the Dalai Lama will depend on what the people of Tibet want,' he said.
The Dalai Lama, whose worldly name is Tenzin Gyatso, fled Tibet in 1959 after the Chinese quelled an uprising and took over government of the mountainous country.
He is revered in Tibet but based in Dharmsala, India, where he heads a government in exile.
U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday is believed to have urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to ensure better treatment of the Dalai Lama.