The Dalai Lama (search), Tibet's spiritual leader, spent his first visit to Alaska discussing wildlife conservation and Native concerns Friday with state leaders.

Gov. Frank Murkowski (search) held a small, private welcome for the Buddhist leader in which they "talked about the history of Alaska, its wildlife, economy, all the things that make Alaska a great place to live," said Murkowski's spokeswoman, Becky Hultberg.

The Dalai Lama is particularly interested in how Alaska melds environmental conservation with economic development, said his spokesman, Tashi Wangdi. Earlier this year, he asked his followers to help combat the illegal wildlife trade along Tibet's border with India and Nepal.

He is scheduled to officially begin a two-week U.S. tour with a benefit in his honor in Sun Valley, Idaho, hosted by singer Willie Nelson (search).

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following an aborted uprising against Chinese rule in the territory and now keeps an office in exile in the Himalayan town of Dharmsala (search), India.