The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, said on Thursday he was optimistic he would one day return to his homeland, Japanese media reported.
"We are not asking for independence, but for a realistic plan of an autonomy without diplomacy and defence," he was quoted as telling reporters in Hiroshima, western Japan, where he was attending a conference on international peace.
"I am optimistic (on the possibility of returning to Tibet)," the daily Mainichi Shimbun quoted him as saying.
The Nobel prize-winning spiritual leader has been proposing a "Middle Way" policy seeking autonomy for Tibet within China. Yet limited contacts between Chinese officials and Tibetan exiles have seen little compromise so far.
China, which occupied Tibet in 1950, considers the Dalai Lama a "splittist", or separatist.
The Dalai Lama was also quoted as saying that there had been more democracy in China under President Hu Jintao, but that human rights concerns remained in his homeland.
"Monks are forced to take political lessons and there are still strict limitations on the freedoms of religion and press," he was quoted as saying.