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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
In pictures: World Buddhist Forum

Buddhist monks prepare for the opening of the five-day World Buddhist Forum

China is hosting its first international religious conference since communist rule was established in 1949.

Buddhist monks arrive at the conference centre

The World Buddhist Forum is being held in the eastern city of Hangzhou over five days.

Monks participate in the opening ceremony

China is officially an atheist state although there are said to be 100m Buddhists in the country.

Monks at conference

Hundreds of monks and scholars from around the world are attending the conference.

Monks participating in the forum

China hopes the forum will help to ease international criticism of its strict control over religious activities.

A Chinese Buddhist monk and a policeman outside the conference centre

The conference is debating the principles of Buddhism and its place in modern society.

China's chosen Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu

The Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama has made an appearance, but many Buddhists reject his authority.

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