Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, currently facing extradition for trial on charges of human rights violations, has received support from an unexpected quarter: Tibet's nonviolent, exiled leader the Dalai Lama.

Visiting Chile as part of a South American tour, the Dalai Lama said, "in the Pinochet case, as an individual, now old," it might be best to forgive him, the Nobel laureate told reporters in Santiago.

"I think forgiveness is important, but forgiveness does not mean to forget about what happened."

Over 3,000 people disappeared or died during the Pinochet rule in 1970s and 1980s. Several dozen of those people were Spanish nationals, and Spain is seeking to extradite the 83-year-old Pinochet for trial.

Pinochet is currently under house arrest in Britain while he fights the extradition.

The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Meanwhile in London, another well-known world leader has urged the release of Pinochet: former U.S. President George Bush.

On Monday, the London Times newspaper printed a letter written by Bush to Lord Lamont, a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

In the letter, Bush called the case against Pinochet a "travesty of justice," and also said "Pinochet should be returned to Chile as soon as possible."

During the Cold War, Pinochet was widely considered to be friendly to U.S. interests because of his powerful anti-Communism.