Dalai Lama travels to US for medical checkup

The Dalai Lama pictured on June 29, 2015. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

DHARAMSALA, India – The Dalai Lama left his home in India on Tuesday to travel to the United States for a medical checkup, although the Tibetan spiritual leader said he has no specific health complaints.

He told reporters before leaving the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala that he has been going to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for regular health checkups for the past nine years.

The 80-year-old Buddhist leader said he had a minor swelling in his right eye. He then removed his glasses and laughed, pointing at his slightly swollen eye.

He said he would have a “thorough medical checkup” at the Mayo Clinic.

“Then if they find any problems, they can carry out treatment,” he said.

In September, the Dalai Lama cancelled a series of appearances in the United States on the advice of his U.S. doctors. He was told to rest for several weeks after a medical checkup.

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The Dalai Lama says he is likely to return to Dharmasala in March.

The Tibetan spiritual leader fled across the Himalayas to India after a failed uprising in Tibet in 1959. He settled in Dharamsala and set up a Tibetan government-in-exile there.

Beijing accuses him of seeking to separate Tibet from China. But Tibetans and the Dalai Lama say they simply want a higher degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.