SEATTLE – Still avoiding direct discussion of the situation in Tibet, the Dalai Lama on Saturday urged people to have hope for the future and to look past a century of bloodshed and toward a period of dialogue.
The spiritual leader of Tibet delivered his keynote speech to more than 50,000 people during the second day of a five-day conference on compassion.
Before the Dalai Lama's speech, Lama Tenzin Dhonden, a Tibetan monk who spearheaded the Seeds of Compassion event, told the crowd that Tibet seeks only autonomy.
"Granting autonomy would be good for Tibet and also good for China, but autonomy requires China's commitment to serious dialogue," he said.
The Dalai Lama says he will address the crisis in Tibet at a news conference early Sunday.
Organizers of the Seeds of Compassion say the event is essentially nonpolitical, but references to Tibet have been sprinkled throughout the first two days.
This century has become one of bloodshed, the Dalai Lama said.
"I think it is our own responsibility to make this century be century of dialogue," he said. He also called for world disarmament, saying "constant war" is outdated.
"The concept of nonviolence (is) not just mere absence of violence; nonviolence means facing problems with determination, vision," he said.
The Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet, but he remains the religious and cultural leader of many Tibetans. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Recent protests in Tibet against five decades of Chinese rule have been the largest and most sustained in almost two decades and have fueled protests that have disrupted the global torch relay for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.
China has accused the Dalai Lama of being involved in the uprising. He has said that he wants greater autonomy for the remote mountain region but is not seeking independence.
In Sanya, China, meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao said Tibetan issues are for China to deal with alone.
In his first comments on the unrest, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Hu as saying Saturday that the matter is "entirely an internal issue of China."
Hu said China's conflict with followers of the Dalai Lama is not an issue of ethics, religion or human rights. He said it is a problem "either to safeguard national unification or to split the motherland."
A handful of pro-China demonstrators distributed flyers in the sunshine outside some entrances to Seattle's Qwest Field as people filed into the football stadium.
The flyers listed the benefits of China's presence in Tibet and criticized violence brought by pro-Tibet protesters in China. The demonstrators said they were students from the University of Washington and not affiliated with specific groups.
Ying Xiong, 30, said the group of volunteers were there to voice the other side of the issue because most people get the news from biased media.
Students for a Free Tibet — which hung banners off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco — also was present, selling buttons to raise money for their efforts to protest the Olympics.