New Delhi - Tibetan Buddhist leader the 17th Karmapa is scheduled to visit the United States in May, an official at his office in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala said Wednesday. The 22-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji heads the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The young monk was being groomed by China to be the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists till he fled to India in 2000.

The 17th Karmapa's first visit outside India comes as Tibetans around the world are holding protests against Chinese repression in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

China has repeatedly told the international community against establishing contact with the 17th Karmapa, whom it accuses of trying to split Tibet from China.

A posting on the monk's official website said he would be visiting the US from May 15 to June 2 and this had been confirmed by the government of India through the Dalai Lama's representative in Delhi.

The 17th Karmapa is third in line of succession to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan buddism.

An official at the Karmapa's office said the spiritual leader would be visiting several US cities, including New York, Seattle and Boulder in Colorado and the focus of his visit would be to meet disciples, bless centres, hold prayers and give teachings. The sect he heads has more than 600 centres in 51 countries.


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