Gov. Mark Dayton

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Gov. Dayton meets with the Dalai Lama

  • Article by: SUSAN HOGAN
  • Star Tribune
  • May 8, 2011 - 6:04 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton didn’t attend any public events with the Dalai Lama this weekend. Instead, he met with the Tibetan leader privately.

A spokeswoman for the Dayton staff said the governor greeted the Dalai Lama in his capacity as spiritual leader of the Tibet and a major world religious figure. The meeting, which took place on Saturday at an undisclosed location, wasn’t political, she said.

The Dalai Lama visited the Twin Cities this weekend to participate in events sponsored by the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.

It’s likely his last visit as both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. He recently said he would give up the political post  and is poised to hand over the reins to Lobsang Sangay, the newly elected head of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

On Sunday, the 75-year-old Dalai Lama spoke to well-wishers who turned out at Mariucci Arena, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.  He also attended a private luncheon with more than a hundred donors and dignitaries, including U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison,  Betty McCollum and Tim Walz, all Democrats.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in the 1950s after China's invasion. He's been a tireless advocate for the people of Tibet and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1989.

The Dalai Lama continues to call for more transparency in China's leadership. While in Minnesota, he met with Chinese students and spoke of the importance of an open, democratic society.

The Dalai Lama's outspokenness about China makes his visits politically sensitive for some U.S. leaders. At the same time, President George Bush bestowed the him with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 - the nation's highest civilian honor.

During his visits to the United States, the Dalai Lama is frequently greeted by the governors in the states he visits, no matter the political party. Dayton declined invitations to the Dalai Lama's public events.

Susan Hogan is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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