Dalai Lama hails China President Xi Jinping as 'more open-minded'

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a lecture on Aug 23, 2014 in Hamburg. -- PHOTO: AFP
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a lecture on Aug 23, 2014 in Hamburg. -- PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - The Dalai Lama hailed Xi Jinping as "more open-minded" on Thursday as the Chinese president held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rare visit to India.

"Xi Jinping's approach (is) more realistic, more open-minded" than that of his Chinese predecessor Hu Jintao, the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters in Mumbai.

"Xi Jinping's thinking (is) more realistic, more open-minded, so he can learn more things from India," he continued.

"After all, Sino-India relations on the basis of new trust is very important, very essential."

He made the comments as Xi and Modi held talks in New Delhi as part of Xi's three-day visit to India, where the Dalai Lama has lived since 1959.

The presence in India of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule there, is a source of tension between the two giant Asian rivals.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner supports "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet within China rather than outright independence. But China accuses the Dalai Lama of covertly campaigning for Tibet's independence and calls him a "splittist".

As Xi and Modi held formal talks on boosting trade and strategic ties, Tibetan students protested against China outside the venue in the capital.

About 20 students shouted "We want justice" for Tibet and waved Tibetan flags before police dragged them kicking and screaming into waiting buses outside the Hyderabad House.