Dalai Lama: Iraq War Too Costly

The Dalai Lama said Tuesday that violence in Iraq has cost too many lives and soured his view of the U.S.-led war.

The Tibetan spiritual leader initially reserved judgment on the conflict, saying it would only become clear with time whether the invasion was a good idea.

"At the early stage I felt, and also I expressed, 'Too early to say, to judge.' But now, things not very positive," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Now in Iraq — too many killings."

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To restore relations between the Muslim world and the West, he said, both sides should get to know each other.

"Close contact creates clear understanding," he said. "Then suspicion, fear may not find much room. Even some disagreement doesn't matter."

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The Dalai Lama was in Long Beach to address a women's conference presided over by California first lady Maria Shriver. He also met privately with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Dalai Lama said he has distilled his personal beliefs to a simple phrase: "My religion is kindness."

He would not comment directly on the furor aroused in the Muslim world after recent remarks about Islam by Pope Benedict XVI, but the Dalai Lama warned against the misuse of religion to foment social divisions.

"Mischievous people often use religious faith for their own interests and create conflict," he said. "We have to look at the real message of all these traditions."

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