Dalai Lama urges India to let teen-age Karmapa stay

NEW DELHI, India - The Dalai Lama urged the Indian government Saturday to allow the Karmapa - the teen-age monk who was refused asylum after fleeing China in January - to stay in India.

The Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan leader, made the request in a meeting with Lal Krishna Advani, the interior minister, Press Trust of India reported. The Tibetan leader also requested the government to let the Karmapa travel to the Rumtek monastery in the remote Sikkim state.

Advani reiterated the Indian position that asylum would not be granted to the Karmapa, United News of India reported.

The Karmapa, the third highest Tibetan Buddhist leader, has arrived in India to reclaim the traditional black crown kept in the Rumtek monastery for 18 years.

''I assured him of discussing the matter with the prime minister ... after he returns home,'' Advani told reporters. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is currently on a state visit in the United States.

In January, the boy recognized as the 17th Karmapa defected to India from a China in a grueling trek by car, horse and foot over 900 miles through the Himalayas.

His departure from Tibet has led to widespread speculation that he is being groomed to succeed the Dalai Lama as political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

The Dalai Lama said the 15-year-old monk's main aim was to serve the Buddhist faith and the Tibetan nation.

''These two goals cannot be fulfilled if he remains inside Tibet,'' the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying by PTI.


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