To mark the 25<sup>th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest, the Dalai Lama has asked Xi Jinping's government to pray for the martyrs of the 1989 massacre, Reuters reported.

The spiritual leader, who is in exile in Tibet, spoke about the student-led protests that led to the killing of hundreds of students by Chinese government's troops at a conference.

"I offer my prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights," he was quoted as saying by Initiatives for China, a Washington-based group that campaigns for a peaceful transition to democracy in China.

"In this anniversary of China's young martyrs, let us pray that the Chinese leaders of today would turn their hearts away from fear and defensiveness, that they would reach out to the victims and victims' families, and repent of the massacre of China's youth."

The exiled leader also suggested that China should embrace democracy.

"While great progress has been made to integrate into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage China to enter the mainstream of global democracy, (")

A representative of the Dalai Lama's private office in Dharamsala, his base is in northern India, confirmed that the statement was authentic.

China's Foreign Ministry condemned the comments.

"Everyone is clear about who the Dalai [Lama] is. His statement has ulterior motives," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

A few days ahead of the 25<sup>th anniversary of the massacre, China imposed a wide block on Google services, to prevent people from accessing information about the government crackdown on protesters on 4 June 1989.

The Dalai Lama fled to India after an aborted attempted of revolution against the Chinese rule in 1959.