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Dalai Lama doesn't fault Obama for low-key meeting

February 22, 2010

By Associated Press
February 20, 2010

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- The Dalai Lama says
he doesn’t fault President Obama for his low-key
reception in Washington because he recognizes
that the president must juggle ties to the
Tibetan spiritual leader with concerns about angering China.

The Dalai Lama told The Associated Press he
understands that Obama must be practical in
exercising his commitment to human rights worldwide.

"No disappointment. The last six decades my heart
hardened. I do not consider important political
gestures. I don’t care. The important is meet
face-to-face," said the Dalai Lama, who was sometimes assisted by a translator.

"With President Clinton, the first meeting was a
‘drop-in,’" he said. "People asked me the same question (then). I don’t care."

The Dalai Lama made the remarks while in Los
Angeles to support Whole Child International, an
organization that advocates better care for orphans worldwide.

Obama hosted the Dalai Lama on Thursday in
Washington, D.C., but kept the get-together
off-camera and low-key in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions with China.

Revered in much of the world, the Dalai Lama is
seen by Beijing as a separatist seeking to
overthrow Chinese rule of Tibet. Though he says
that is untrue, China regards any official
foreign leader’s contact with the Buddhist monk
as an infringement on its sovereignty over the
mountainous region and as a particularly unwelcome snub.

Meetings between the Dalai Lama and U.S.
presidents became standard nearly 20 years ago,
but they are always delicately choreographed and
scrutinized because of China’s sensitivity.

This time, China had urged Obama not to meet with
the 75-year-old spiritual leader, saying the
visit "seriously harms U.S.-China relations."

The Dalai Lama said Saturday it is crucial for
the U.S. to develop an economic relationship with
China without forgoing America’s founding principles.

"You should develop cordial, close relations,
mainly in the economic field at the same time
(as) your principles, these universal values of
democracy and rule of law," he said, as he sat in
an armchair in his hotel suite, with his bare
feet tucked under him. “In these principles, you should stand firm.”

The Tibetan spiritual leader also briefly
addressed the Tiger Woods scandal and the golf
star’s public comments Friday about straying from
his Buddhist faith. Woods said he was raised
Buddhist but needed to focus anew on finding
balance between his faith and professional life.

The Dalai Lama said he did not know who Woods
was, but said self-discipline is among Buddhism’s highest values.

When it comes to adultery, he said, "all religions have the same idea."

"I think mainly whether you call it Buddhism or
another religion, self-discipline, that’s
important," he said. "Self-discipline with awareness of consequences."
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