ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Dalai Lama said Friday he understands the sentiments of those protesting the upcoming Olympics in Beijing to draw attention to China's human rights record.

But the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said he was sorry to see some of the demonstrations had turned violent. And he stressed that he supports the Beijing Games themselves.

"Demonstration is a way of expressing what you are feeling," he said at a news conference to begin a weekend visit to Ann Arbor. "In a purely nonviolent way, that demonstration is right."

The Dalai Lama's comments follow a month of sporadic unrest in Tibetan-inhabited areas of western China, as well as protests that have followed the Olympic torch's passage to China.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet, started his U.S. visit in Seattle last week for a five-day conference on compassion. It's his first U.S. trip since the recent turmoil.