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Dalai Lama asks Obama to champion 'liberty'

October 13, 2009

October 10, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The Dalai Lama on Friday
congratulated President Barack Obama on joining
him as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and called for
the US leader to champion "freedom and liberty."

The exiled Tibetan leader, who is in Washington,
sent Obama a letter of congratulations even
though the president, in an apparent bid not to
upset China, avoiding meeting the Buddhist monk during his weeklong visit.

The Dalai Lama, who won the prestigious award in
1989, told Obama that the Nobel committee
"recognized your approach towards resolving
international conflicts through the wisdom and power of dialogue."

He praised Obama's advocacy for ridding the world
of nuclear weapons and improving the environment.

"I have maintained that the founding fathers of
the United States have made this country the
greatest democracy and a champion of freedom and
liberty," the Dalai Lama wrote.

"It is, therefore, important for today's American
leaders to adopt principled leadership based on
these high ideals. Such an approach will not only
enhance the reputation of the United States, but
also contribute tremendously to reducing tension in the world."

The Dalai Lama's trip is his first to Washington
since 1991 in which he will not meet with the US president.

The White House said Obama would meet him but
only after the president visits China in November.

The Dalai Lama brushed aside the lack of meeting,
saying that he did not want to cause problems
between the United States and China.

Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago friend and senior
adviser to Obama, last month visited the Dalai
Lama's home in exile in Dharamshala, India to speak to him ahead of his trip.

She denied Obama had snubbed the Tibetan leader,
who enjoys a wide following in the United States.

"What the Dalai Lama, His Holiness, said to me,
is he would look forward to seeing the president
after his trip to China and that would actually
be his preference," Jarrett told CNN.

"All I can say is that I know that the president
is looking forward to meeting him after his trip
to China. He has a great deal of respect for His
Holiness, the Dalai Lama, his ways, his religion
and the culture of the Tibetan people," she said.

China staunchly opposes the travels of the Dalai
Lama, accusing him of separatism.

The Dalai Lama, who has spent 50 years in exile
in India, preaches nonviolence and says he
accepts Chinese rule of his homeland.
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