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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Buddhist meets victims of violence
David Trimble and Seamus Mallon meet the Dalai Lama
David Trimble and Seamus Mallon meet the Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama met victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland during the second day of his visit to the province.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, who is visiting the province for the first time, met 34 victims of violence during a visit to St Columb's Peace Park and Reconciliation House in Londonderry on Friday.

Speaking after he had planted a commemorative tree in the grounds of the house, he said he "fully realised the pain of violence".

The Buddhist leader also urged community and political leaders here to make more effort to "promote human values on a non-violent basis".

The organisers of the event said he had brought a message of compassion and forgiveness.

Earlier, the spiritual leader addressed a peace conference in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The Dalai Lama led the seminar entitled The Way of Peace which explored practical ways in which religious harmony could contribute to peacemaking.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson and First and Deputy First Ministers, David Trimble and Seamus Mallon, welcomed him to the event.

The ministers gave him two books, one on Northern Ireland and the other on the story of Ireland's patron saint, Patrick.

The first minister said the visit was a very special occasion.

"I know that many people have been looking forward to hearing his perspective on world events as an acknowledged man of peace," he said.

Peter Mandelson will greet the Dalai Lama
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson also greeted the Dalai Lama
"I hope, in turn, that he will discover in us a people ready to settle old differences and ready to embrace new opportunities on a basis of respect for human rights, equality of opportunity and the principle of consent."

Mr Mallon said: "We have much to share with others in telling of our experience in bringing people together."

The Dalai Lama was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster on Friday afternoon.

He also attended a youth conference in Belfast City Hall.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for a non-violent campaign to free his homeland from Chinese rule, arrived in the province on Thursday.

Peaceline visit

His first engagement was a symbolic walk through the gates of a peace line, separating Catholic and Protestant communities on the Springfield Road, in north Belfast.

He told the dozens of people who gathered to greet him at Lanark Way that he was in Northern Ireland to "promote human value and religious understanding".

He also planted a tree on each side of the peace line gates.

The Dalai Lama was accompanied by clergy from both traditions and had a number of private meetings with local community groups.

The Buddhist leader also visited a Catholic monastery in west Belfast and gave a lecture to about 1,000 people at an Amnesty International conference at the city's Ulster Hall on Thursday night.

The visit has been at the invitation of the World Community for Christian Mediation (WCCM).

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