The Dalai Lama thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their meeting on Friday, praising Canada’s political leader for his “courage,” Postmedia News reported.
Tibet’s spiritual leader is in Canada for the sixth World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet.
While there was some doubt Harper would meet with the Dalai Lama – given Canada’s cozy relationship with China – they did speak briefly behind closed doors on Friday in Ottawa.
“He had the courage to meet me, so I very much appreciate that,” the Dalai Lama said today after speaking to about 7,000 people in Canada’s capital.
His Holiness told the crowd earlier to remain optimistic, CBC News reported.
He said that since he’s shed his political role, he could now focus more on encouraging world peace.
“This century can be the century of peace,” the Dalai Lama said, according to CBC. “We have to develop the concept of the oneness of humanity.”
More from GlobalPost: Nobel laureates gather in Chicago
Among the notable names in Ottawa for the conference are actor Richard Gere and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Gere, a long-time supporter of Tibet, the Dalai Lama and Buddhism, is playing a very visible role at the conference.
He moderated panel discussions with world political leaders, and introduced the Dalai Lama to the crowd today.
“I don't think there’s anyone like him in our lifetime,” Gere said, CBC reported.
During his meeting with Canada’s political leadership on Friday, the Dalai Lama encouraged Canada to pursue its economic goals with China, but at the same time praised the country’s stance on human rights.
Canada plans to accept 1,000 Tibetans living in exile in India over the next five years.
“The fact the Dalai Lama was able to see the prime minister also proves there is great support from the Canadian government for the Tibetan cause,” Kunsang Tanzin, president of Canada Tibetan Association of Ontario, told CTV News. “Canada’s support for Tibet is very important for all of us.”
More from GlobalPost: How Israel dodged the economic crisis