(AFP) – Oct 9, 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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