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Dalai Lama Visits Jerusalem

June 14, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ The Dalai Lama today took his message of peace and tolerance to Jerusalem, a city that is to many a symbol of religious strife.

Dressed in a maroon and gold robe, the leader of hundreds of thousands of Tibetan Buddhists visited the shrines of Judaism, Islam and Christianity _ the Western Wall, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

``Human beings should consider other human beings as fellow brothers and sisters,″ he told reporters. ``The differences of ideology, systems and nationality are secondary.″

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama brought together leaders of five faiths in Jerusalem to emphasize the need for unity among theologians.

His first stop today was the Western Wall, the last remains of the Jewish Temple. Escorted by Israeli soldiers and personal guards who held a blue umbrella to shield him from the sun, he walked to the office of Israel’s chief rabbi, Israel Meir Lau.

The Dalai Lama put a maroon and white skullcap on his head as he and the rabbi talked about religious tolerance.

Lau presented the Dalai Lama with a book called ``Practical Judaism.″ He then asked the Dalai Lama about a white scarf the Buddhist leader gave him several years ago.

The Dalai Lama took another white scarf from one of his aides and handed it to the rabbi. ``The color, the pureness, the smoothness ... this symbolizes humility,″ he told the rabbi. ``It is long, the symbol that this friendship will remain forever.″

He put the scarf around Lau’s neck. ``So I want to give you this with my expression, my appreciation of Judaism making contributions for the betterment of humanity in the past, present and future,″ he said.

At the Wall, the Dalai Lama offered a prayer and then pressed another white scarf to one of the large, honey-colored stone blocks.

As he walked up a ramp to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, tourists gathered around him to shake his hand and take his picture. He took off the skullcap and put on a bright yellow hat.

The Dalai Lama was not greeted by a representative of the Islamic Trust, which administers the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

Mohammed Husseini, the leading cleric at Al Aqsa, said the Islamic Trust wasn’t told of the visit until this morning.

The Dalai Lama was allowed to tour, but not to offer prayers in the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.

At the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dalai Lama was greeted by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Diodoros I. The Dalai Lama toured the tomb of Jesus and posed for pictures with Greek Orthodox clergymen.

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