Taipei, April 5 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian held amiable talks with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, in a landmark encounter at the Presidential Office Thursday.
Chen said he appreciates the Dalai Lama's consistent support for his position that Taiwan's future should be determined by the people of Taiwan.
Chen, who assumed office last May in the Republic of China's first-ever democratic transfer of power between different political parties, also thanked the Dalai Lama for sending a large delegation of the Tibetan government-in-exile to attend his inauguration.
Chen lauded the Dalai Lama for his long pursuit of freedom and democracy for his communist Chinese-ruled Himalayan homeland.
"I know you have endured extreme hardship over the past five decades for striving for Tibet's freedom and democracy, and I deeply admire your fortitude and perseverance in facing the tall order," Chen told his guest.
For his part, the Dalai Lama said democratization is Taiwan's greatest achievement. In his view, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner said peace and reason are critical to both political and economic development.
The Dalai Lama praised Chen for his efforts to uphold justice and impartiality in his governance of Taiwan. He further said he has always followed the principles of fairness and reason in handling Tibetan affairs.
"And when I encounter difficulties, I face them with compassion and wisdom," the Dalai Lama said, adding he finds that President Chen has done well in this regard and has managed to place the top priority on overall national interest and the common well-being of the people of Taiwan.
Touching on Tibetan affairs, the Dalai Lama said that as the world is changing, the views of mainland Chinese leaders should change along with the global trends.
During his talks with President Chen, the Dalai Lama said optimistically that the world's concern for Tibet make him hopeful about the future of his homeland.
The Dalai Lama also reaffirmed his belief in democracy, saying he hopes the Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala can develop a solid democratic system.
In his view, the Dalai Lama said all Cabinet ministers of the Tibetan government-in-exile should all be elected by Tibetan people in order to gain their trust and support. The Dalai Lama himself already announced in 1992 he will no longer assume any political duties and will dedicate himself to religious and charity missions.
Turning to an appeal by local Buddhist nuns for gender equality, the Dalai Lama told President Chen that he personally cannot resolve the issue. "It should be discussed by all nuns and monks," he said, adding that he thinks Taiwan can sponsor an international Buddhist meeting on the issue.
The Dalai Lama has stressed that his current 10-day visit to Taiwan is purely religious in nature. He made his first trip to the island in 1997.
During their pleasant meeting, Chen presented the Dalai Lama a copy of his biography and a wooden Buddha sculpture as gifts.