Dalai Lama says it's up for his followers to decide fate of his office

The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader says it's up to his followers to decide whether the office of the Dalai Lama exists in the future.

In a speech to tens of thousands of his followers Saturday in the northeast Indian town of Tawang — the second-highest seat of Tibetan Buddhism — the Dalai Lama denied that he had any knowledge of where his successor would be born.

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Asked if the next Dalai Lama could be a woman, he said, "That might also happen."

China's leadership insists it has the authority to appoint the Dalai Lama's successor after his death.

The Dalai Lama is on a weeklong visit to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh despite objections by China, which considers the state a disputed region.