WASHINGTON, May 23, UPI--The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, emerged from a Wednesday morning talk with President George W. Bush where he stressed the importance of good relations between the United States and China.

Speaking to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House, the Dalai Lama described Bush as showing "very genuine, human, warm feeling," which he appreciated. The Tibetan leader said China should not isolate itself from the world community.

"So good relations with China, mainly in economy, it is a major benefit, it is good," the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama's regular appearances in Washington are an ongoing source of friction in U.S.-China relations, which became icy recently when a U.S. spy plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet. The April 1 incident, which killed the pilot of the Chinese fighter, led to an 11-day standoff between Washington and Beijing as Chinese authorities held the 24-member crew of the EP-3 plane on the island over White House protests.

"I showed to him that in the future, whenever the president has the opportunity of meeting with a Chinese leader, he can (tell) the Chinese government I am not seeking independence, irrespective of past history. I am seeking genuine self-rule, which essentially is a mutual benefit," the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama's visit comes on the same day Beijing marks the 50th anniversary of Communist rule in Tibet. Many Tibetans and their sympathizers regard the date as the beginning of Chinese occupation of the Himalayan region, which Tibetan Buddhists consider a sacred homeland. The Dalai Lama declined to answer a reporter's question on the anniversary.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao denounced Bush's decisions to meet with the Dalai Lama -- and the U.S. visit by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, who arrived in New York on Monday and plans to leave Wednesday. Zhu said Washington's decision to host the president of Taiwan, which Beijing has considered a breakaway province since 1949, would hurt relations.

On Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympics, the Dalai Lama said those working for democracy would have to decide whether the government was politicizing the event or if they believe it would further their goal for democratic rule.

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