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Dalai Lama speaks on compassion

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The Dalai Lama takes part in a panel discussion Friday in Seattle. He did not mention China's treatment of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama takes part in a panel discussion Friday in Seattle. He did not mention China’s treatment of Tibet.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — In his first public appearances since arriving for a five-day conference on compassion, the Dalai Lama made no mention of the situation in Tibet, instead welcoming what he said was a new scientific interest in human emotion.

Organizers say the Seeds of Compassion gathering is essentially nonpolitical, but co-founder Dan Kranzler alluded to Tibet, telling the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader on stage, "The world knows the truth."

China's recent crackdown in Tibet has fueled protests that have disrupted the global torch relay for the Beijing Games.

The first event of the conference was a dialogue between scientists and the Dalai Lama about early childhood development and compassion. That panel discussion and a second Friday went smoothly with almost no demonstrators on either side of the Tibet issue.

The mood was lighthearted, with the Dalai Lama often joking during the first two events about his personal life, and reflecting on his own parents.

"I'm happy to be spending time sitting with experienced scientists of compassion," he said. "Compassion is the motivation, but the real factor is action to change."

Panelists talked about encouraging parents or caretakers to spend more time with children and discussed how young children's brains are shaped by their experiences and early relationships.

The Dalai Lama began his U.S. tour amid continuing turmoil in Tibet and loud protests accompanying the Olympic torch's passage to Beijing.

Also on Friday, the Olympic torch arrived in Buenos Aires in its only South American stop of its world tour. Police, security officials and fences kept protesters from the torch on its 8.5-mile route in the capital of Argentina, in the most trouble-free torch relay in nearly a week.

Upon his arrival Thursday in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said he was saddened by what happened in San Francisco, where thousands of protesters prompted officials to make last-minute changes to the Olympic torch relay route, but he voiced support for nonviolent demonstrations.

He has said he is not against China hosting the Olympic Games.

The Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet but remains the religious and cultural leader of many Tibetans. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1989.

Calls placed Friday to the Chinese Embassy in Washington for comment on the Dalai Lama's visit to the United States were not immediately returned.

He arrived for Friday's conference sessions surrounded by heavy security with police on foot, motorcycles and horses. The State Department and Seattle police are providing the security. The Dalai Lama traveled in fortified motorcades between events.

Organizers of the Seeds of Compassion conference have said his visit was expected to help draw more than 150,000 people to dozens of workshops and events.

The Seattle chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress, a group China labeled as a terrorist organization on Friday, planned a candlelight event Saturday in downtown Seattle. Some Chinese students at the University of Washington are expected to protest Monday when the Dalai Lama receives an honorary degree.

Friday's last scheduled event was billed as a panel about compassion in the media with the Dalai Lama and musician Dave Matthews, followed by a benefit concert headlined by Matthews.