China must march toward democracy : Dalai Lama

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Dharamshala, Aug 23 (UNI) The only way China could ''regain'' its respectability in the international community was to ''march towards democracy'', Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama today said.

The Lama was speaking after inaugurating a temple at Sogyal Rinpoche Buddhist center in Lerab-Ling, in the southern town of Roqueredonde in France according to a press release issued here today.

Claiming that China had increased repression of Tibetans during the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Lama urged China to ''march toward democracy.'' France's Foreign Minister, Bernhard Kouchner, first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and French Human Rights Minister, Rama Yade, were also at the consecration ceremony, which was attended by about 2,000 people.

The Dalai Lama led a procession of monks in orange and red, chanting and playing long trumpets, around the temple, accompanied by Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy and presented the pair with long white scarves, a Tibetan gesture of hospitality and respect, which they wore as they watched their host prostrate himself before a statue of the Buddha.

The red and gold Lerab Ling was one of the biggest Tibetan Buddhist temples in the West. It houses a 23-foot high golden statue of the Buddha and many holy relics and scriptures. Another golden Buddha sits in the middle of a lake just outside.

Hundreds of students of Buddhism braved heavy rain to visit the site, which was decorated with multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags.

The Dalai Lama, after winding up the French visit devoted to religious engagements including a six-day teaching series and consecration of Buddhist temples, would return here tomorrow, the release said.

UNI XC JN RJ VC2115

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