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IAC2781Dharamshala: - The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit the Westminster Abbey in London yesterday brought memories of Tibet's historical ties with Britain before it was invaded by the People's Republic of China.

Welcoming him to the Jerusalem Chamber, the Very Reverend John R Hall, the Dean, commented on the rich history of the room itself. It was a significant location for His Holiness to meet British people who had lived and worked in Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion. The son of Robert Ford, the radio operator who served in Kham and was later imprisoned by the Chinese, read a message from his father who was indisposed. He spoke of being a witness to a free Tibet, a country the size of France and Germany, an independent country with its own government, language, customs and way of life. He said the Tibetans he encountered were honest, gentle and joyful, devoted to their religion and to their leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness recalled that on his first visit to Europe in 1973 he had been impressed to discover people in England who could speak a little Tibetan, which he took as evidence of the links that had existed between Tibet and Great Britain. These were people who as a result of their stay there understood what Tibet was. He said, "I am very happy to be here. Our struggle is between the power of truth and justice and the power of the gun. In the short term the power of the gun seems stronger, but in the long term the power of truth will prevail. We are determined that our struggle remains non-violent and as a result we have a strong base of support and solidarity here and in other countries, and even among increasing numbers of informed Chinese.

"Please keep Tibet in your thoughts and tell other people what you know about Tibet, her people and environment, thank you," His Holiness said.

Later, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, hosted a lunch for His Holiness and he escorted him to the Speakers quarters, passing through the arches, corridors and yards of the Palace of Westminster, greeting parliamentary colleagues on the way. His Holiness said, "It is indeed a great honour for me to receive such a warm welcome here in Britain which has had historical links with Tibet. Thank you."

Addressing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Food and Agriculture His Holiness mentioned the importance not only of food for the body, but also of food for the mind. He explained that if our minds are disturbed, material comfort does little to put us at ease, but if we face physical hardship with a calm and peaceful mind we can easily cope and overcome it. He elaborated his concern to find ways to foster a true sense of inner values, secular ethics, appropriate to the twenty-first century and the interdependent world in which we live.

From the Houses of Parliament, His Holiness drove to Clarence House to a private meeting with HRH the Prince of Wales, where they had a warm conversation about matters of mutual concern.

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