Dalai Lama begins Austria visit

The Dalai Lama arrived in Austria Thursday for a visit that will include a meeting with Chancellor Werner Faymann and is likely to irritate China, already angered by his previous stop in Britain.

Beijing accuses the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, 76, of trying to split Tibet from the rest of China, and of encouraging a spate of self-immolations in the vast Himalayan region, accusations he denies.

China said Tuesday that British Prime Minister David Cameron's meeting with the Dalai Lama the day before was an "affront to the Chinese people".

The pair held a private meeting during the Dalai Lama's visit to London to receive the £1.1-million ($1.8-million, 1.4-million-euro) Templeton Prize for spiritual leadership.

During his 11-day trip to Austria, the Nobel peace laureate, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, will visit Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna.

He is scheduled to meet Faymann alongside Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, a visit the chancellor's spokesman said would take place "in a religious context".

He is also due to meet Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. A spokesman said Beijing had been informed of their meeting.

His schedule also includes a Tibetan rights demonstration in Vienna's main square.

The Dalai Lama will have a large police detachment guarding him throughout his trip, an interior ministry spokesman said.

The exiled spiritual leader has a long relationship with Austria and visits regularly -- the last time in 2007.

As a young man, one of his teachers in then-Tibetan capital Lhasa was Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, whose autobiography inspired the 1999 film "Seven Years in Tibet" with Brad Pitt.

Austria has also released a special stamp in the Dalai Lama's honour.

In 2007, talks between the Tibetan spiritual leader and then-Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer prompted protests from Chinese authorities and a minor rift in bilateral ties.

China has imposed tight security to contain simmering discontent in Tibetan regions since 2008, when deadly rioting against Chinese rule broke out in Lhasa and spread to neighboring Tibetan-inhabited regions.

A total of 34 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, are reported to have set themselves on fire in Tibetan-inhabited areas since the start of 2011 to protest against Beijing.

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