Bombay, India, Feb. 7--(AP) The Dalai Lama reiterated Thursday that he was seeking autonomy for Tibet and not its independence from China, which he said will eventually follow a global trend toward democracy. "I am not seeking independence. I am looking forward to the future,'' the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters before leaving for New Delhi after treatment of a bowel infection in a Bombay hospital.

China considers the Dalai Lama a political leader bent on dividing China rather than a religious figure. He said he was optimistic about the future of Tibetans. "China is in the process of transformation ... China is a great power, but it will have to follow the global trend of democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, human rights,'' the 66-year-old Dalai Lama said. "In that context, I am very hopeful about the Tibetan issue,'' he said.

The Dalai Lama was discharged from Bombay's Lilavati Hospital last weekend after undergoing 11 days of treatment for a bowel infection that doctors said was caused by an amoeba. He was flown to Bombay on Jan. 27 by a chartered aircraft after he complained of abdominal pains while leading a special prayer ceremony at a major Buddhist pilgrimage center in Bihar state in eastern India.

On Thursday, the Dalai Lama said he fell sick when he had earlier gone for a pilgrimage in Rajgiri in Bihar. "When you go for a pilgrimage, more hardship is better. So, I walked with a stick, and while having lunch after my return, the pain started,'' he said

. "I developed similar stomach problems in 1959 while crossing the Tibetan border,'' the Tibetan spiritual leader said.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 with thousands of supporters after a failed uprising against China. Since then, he has headed a government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his nonviolent struggle against Chinese rule.