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Dalai Lama offers prayers for tsunami victims

Sapa-AFP, December 31 2004

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said on Friday that he and a congregation of monks and nuns would pray for the thousands of people killed by tsunamis in Buddhist Sri Lanka.

"I am especially very saddened by the great loss of lives and devastation that has taken place in Sri Lanka," the 69-year-old spiritual leader said in a message to President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Sri Lanka has consistently rejected requests to issue the Dalai Lama a visa to visit the island and worship at two of Buddhism's holiest sites in the island.

Buddhist leaders have said Sri Lanka is the only Buddhist nation which has barred the Dalai Lama.

Pressure from China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist, is said to be responsible for Colombo's stance.

"As is our tradition we are organising a special offering of prayers by a congregation of monks and nuns both for those who have lost their lives and those who are bereaved," the Dalai Lama said.

Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis killed nearly 30 000 people in Sri Lanka from a total of more than 125 000 in 10 other Asian and African countries.


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