Dalai Lama arrives in Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland - TIBETAN spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrived in Switzerland today for a 10-day visit to the largest Tibetan exile community in Europe.

His trip will feature a week-long series of lectures on Buddhism for thousands of people at a sports stadium in the northeastern city of Zurich, as well as services with other religious leaders.

The Dalai Lama is also due to meet the Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin on Thursday despite Chinese objections to the meeting.

"That is part if the normal subjects of discussion between China and Switzerland," said Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Ivo Sieber.

"The meeting will take place," he said.

It is the Dalai Lama's 15th trip to Switzerland, which is home to some 3000 Tibetan exiles, the largest Tibetan community outside Asia.

Envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese representatives held two days of talks at the Chinese embassy in Switzerland on July 1, in their first meeting outside of China.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959, and direct ties between him and Beijing collapsed in 1993. They were renewed in 2002.

Since then Chinese and Tibetan representatives have met four times to discuss a possible return of Tibetan exiles as well as the question of autonomy for Tibet, in line with a pledge Beijing offered a year after it invaded the region in 1950.