Tibet’s exiled Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has left the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., after what his office called a routine annual check-up, hospital officials said on Wednesday.
The 80-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate canceled planned visits in the United States in October at the advice of doctors who urged him to rest for several weeks, his office said in a statement on Friday. His office gave no indication that he was ill nor any details about his state of health.
Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo said on Wednesday that he had been released, but declined to provide any information as to when he left or further details on his stay.
The Dalai Lama’s office could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
His time in the country coincided with the visit of Pope Francis, who met with President Barack Obama and left to return to Rome on Sunday night after a 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba.
The local Post-Bulletin newspaper said dozens of Tibetans clad in traditional clothes greeted the Dalai Lama at the Mayo Civic Center on Wednesday morning.
“It means the world to us,” Dorjee Damdul told the newspaper. “We follow his guidance … he touched our faces. It was a blessing.”
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops took over the region in 1950. Beijing regards the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, as a dangerous separatist who wants an independent Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly refuted those claims and has advocated for seeking greater autonomy for Tibet within China through dialogue with Beijing.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco.)