The Dalai Lama appealed to Beijing on Saturday to allow him to visit Qinghai province in China, where he was born, to comfort the victims of a deadly earthquake.
"To fulfil the wishes of many of the people there, I am eager to go there myself to offer them comfort," the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement issued from Dharamshala, his home in exile in northern India.
The Buddhist monk added that the remote western Qinghai province, where the quake struck on Wednesday, killing at least 1,339 people and injuring nearly 12,000 others, also "happens to be where" he was born.
"Because of the physical distance between us, at present I am unable to comfort those directly affected, but I would like them to know I am praying for them," he said.
He praised the response of Chinese authorities to the disaster, "especially Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who has not only personally offered comfort to the affected communities, but has also overseen the relief work."
Buddhist monks were rushing Saturday to cremate hundreds of China quake victims over sanitation fears as hopes dimmed of finding further survivors among the hundreds still listed as missing on the remote Tibetan plateau.
The Dalai Lama, who rejects Beijing's charges that he wants independence for Tibet, points out that he only seeks "meaningful autonomy." He has been living in India since fleeing his homeland after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
The spiritual leader said Chinese authorities denied him permission to visit after a massive quake struck China's southwestern Sichuan province in 2008 leaving tens of thousands dead.
When Taiwan was ravaged by a typhoon in August 2009 that killed more than 600 people, authorities there allowed him to visit families hit by the disaster.
"In providing some solace to the people concerned, I was happy to be able to do something useful," he said.
The Dalai Lama's visit to the typhoon-hit areas of Taiwan last September deeply angered Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory.
Two years ago, protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, marking the anniversary of the March 10,1959 uprising, escalated into deadly violence, prompting a massive security clampdown in the Himalayan region that is ongoing.