WASHINGTON: Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has cancelled a planned October visit to the United States at the advice of doctors following a medical check-up this week, his office said in a statement on Friday.
The statement said doctors had urged the Dalai Lama to rest for several weeks, though it gave no indication that he was ill nor details about the state of health of the 80-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate.
His India-based secretary, Tenzin Taklha, said in an email on Thursday that the Dalai Lama was going to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for an annual medical checkup but was not ill.
The latest statement confirmed that the Dalai Lama was in the United States for a checkup, adding:
"The doctors have advised His Holiness to rest for the next several weeks. As a result, His Holiness' planned October US visit has been cancelled. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused by this decision and apologise to all the people who have worked so hard in organising the visit as well as to the public. We thank you for your support and understanding."
The Dalai Lama's checkup came as heads of state and diplomats were gathering for the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York, but he had no plans to meet with any world leaders in conjunction with the session, Taklha said on Thursday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was due to make his U.N. debut as leader of China, which has ruled Tibet since Communist troops took over the Himalayan region in 1950 and regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.
The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, has refuted claims that he is seeking independence for Tibet, advocating instead for greater autonomy of the region through dialogue with Beijing.
His current presence in the United States also coincided with the visit of Pope Francis, who met with President Barack Obama and addressed the United Nations on Friday.
Smith College issued a statement on Friday saying the Dalai Lama had cancelled scheduled appearances for October there and at two nearby Massachusetts schools - Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
CNBC reported that the Dalai Lama had also been due to appear next month in Boulder, Colorado, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia.