The Dalai Lama indicated Thursday he was in informal talks with China to make a historic pilgrimage to his Tibetan homeland after more than half a century in exile.
“It’s not finalised, not yet, but the idea is there,” he said during celebrations to mark 25 years since he won the Nobel peace prize.
“Not formally or seriously, but informally... I express, this is my desire, and some of my friends, they are also showing their genuine interest or concern,” he added. “Recently, some Chinese officials, for example the deputy party secretary in the autonomous region of Tibet, he also mentioned the possibility of my visit as a pilgrimage to that sacred place.”
The Dalai Lama has long expressed a desire to visit the Wutai Shan mountain, considered sacred by Tibetans.
In an interview with AFP, the Tibetan spiritual leader also spoke of his optimism about the new leadership in Beijing and of his hopes for a peaceful end to the stand-off in Hong Kong.
He also welcomed recent comments by President Xi Jinping on the importance of Buddhism in Chinese society.
“This is something very new, a Communist Party leader saying something about spirituality,” said the exiled leader, who recently described Xi as “more open-minded” than his predecessors.
The Dalai Lama had enjoyed a close relationship with Xi’s father before he fled Tibet.
His comments Thursday come amid speculation of an easing of tensions with China, which in the past has decried the spiritual leader as a “splittist” and accused him of seeking secession.
The Dalai Lama also criticised China’s treatment of dissidents, and said he hoped the current stand-off between authorities and pro-democracy campaigners in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong could be “resolved peacefully, with mutual benefit”.