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Dalai Lama arrives in New York on trip for medical treatment

By Thomson Reuters Jun 23, 2024 | 1:13 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, arrived in New York on Sunday ahead of medical treatment for his knees and was greeted by hundreds of cheering and chanting supporters.

The 88-year-old waved from the open window of a limousine as it approached his Manhattan hotel. He walked slowly to the entrance, supported by aides.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. The Nobel peace laureate has battled health problems for years.

Some supporters arrived hours ahead of time to make sure they could catch a sight of a man making his first trip to the United States since 2017.

“I knew I had to come here for this once in a lifetime opportunity. And I think waiting outside for the past four or five hours is definitely worth it,” said Tenzin Kunkyi.

“There is a strong sense of community when you’re here, everyone’s passing around bread … along with getting a blessing from seeing His Holiness, we also strengthen our Tibetan bond here outside,” she added.

It is unclear whether the Dalai Lama, who Beijing sees as a dangerous separatist, will meet any U.S. officials during his trip. He says he is not seeking independence for Tibet.

Supporters, many dressed in colorful robes, danced in the streets outside the hotel.

“We wish Dalai Lama long life. And we really wish Dalai Lama (would) visit China to say to the Tibetan community ‘Hi, hello’,” said Byamba Suren, who left Virginia at 3 a.m. to drive to New York.

A group of U.S. lawmakers met the Dalai Lama in India last week and said they would not allow China to influence the choice of his successor. They want to push Beijing to restart talks with Tibetan leaders, stalled since 2010.

(Reporting by Hussein Waaile, writing by David Ljunggren)