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Interview with the Dalai Lama

Interview with the Dalai Lama

By The Situation Room - October 8, 2009

WOLF BLITZER: Your Holiness, thanks very much for allowing me to interview you.

Let's talk about an important issue in your relationship with the United States right now. You have come to Washington many times, 10 times since 1991. And, each time, an American president has received you. The first President Bush, President Clinton, the second President Bush.

You are here in Washington right now, and President Obama will not see you during this visit. How disappointed are you?

DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: Meeting with a president, particularly meeting with an American president, usually, I have something, some political agenda, yes, obviously (INAUDIBLE) issue. So, now, president soon go to Beijing.

BLITZER: He goes to China next month?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, next month.

So, he already sort of indicated that he is going to speak to the Chinese. And it seems that he (INAUDIBLE) seriously engaging with Chinese about Tibet issue, and besides some other issue, global warming, all these things.

BLITZER: Has he made a firm commitment to you that he will press the Chinese for -- for Tibet's human rights when he meets with them in Beijing next month?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, it seems as if there is some indication. So, therefore -- therefore...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... a personal -- a personal commitment to you that he will raise the issue of Tibet...

DALAI LAMA: Yes, he will raise...

BLITZER: ...when he meets with the Chinese?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, definitely. The (INAUDIBLE) Obama, before his election, he telephoned me. And then afterward, I have some correspondence with him. So he seems very, very (INAUDIBLE) but he really wants something practical level to sort of do -- do something.

BLITZER: By what...

DALAI LAMA: So -- so -- so -- so -- so -- so -- so, therefore, this time, in order to avoid embarrassment to the Chinese president -- and, also, I recovered some -- some sort of message through some (INAUDIBLE) channel or private channel, some through my -- my Chinese friends, also (INAUDIBLE).

So, therefore, I think that it is better, in some cases, not just to show a picture of a meeting. I think -- I think more serious discussion is better than just a picture... BLITZER: So...

DALAI LAMA: (INAUDIBLE) so I have no disappointment.

BLITZER: You have no disappointment.

DALAI LAMA: No.

BLITZER: But you -- your representatives asked for this meeting at least twice and they were disappointed when the White House said no.

DALAI LAMA: Yes. At -- at the beginning, (INAUDIBLE) is they made some effort. Then I sent a message, don't do that.

BLITZER: It looks like the U.S. -- the Obama administration is more concerned about its economic relationship with China, military relationship, political and diplomatic relationship than the human rights of the situation in Tibet -- at least that's the criticism that has been leveled against the president for not meeting with you this week.

DALAI LAMA: Yes. Well, this is also, you see, I know some facts. At some point there -- but, you know, we have to think more holistic. So one thing I'm quite sure he will raise the issue and he personally was very much sort of engaged about the issue. So I have no regret.

BLITZER: You don't have a date when you will sit down with President Obama?

Is there a date yet?

DALAI LAMA: I think within this -- the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

BLITZER: So by the end...

DALAI LAMA: Yes, sure.

BLITZER: By the end of this year, 2009, the beginning of 2010, there will be a meeting...

DALAI LAMA: Sure.

BLITZER: ...between you and President Obama?

DALAI LAMA: Sure. Yes.

BLITZER: Where will that meeting take place?

DALAI LAMA: Where?

BLITZER: Where?

DALAI LAMA: In Washington. BLITZER: At the White House?

DALAI LAMA: I think so.

BLITZER: But you don't know for sure?

You think so?

DALAI LAMA: I think so.

BLITZER: It's been arranged already?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Has it been arranged already?

DALAI LAMA: Actually, you see there's some kind of (INAUDIBLE) a commitment there, a commitment there.

BLITZER: There is a commitment from the White House?

DALAI LAMA: OK. Yes. Yes.

BLITZER: There is a commitment. The secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, she said back in February that -- that U.S. concern for human rights, she said, should not interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis, as far as U.S./Chinese relations are concerned.

Did -- did that worry you, that statement, that, yes, the U.S. is concerned about human rights -- including human rights in Tibet, of course -- but there are other issues that are very important to the United States in terms of its relationship with China?

DALAI LAMA: I didn't -- oh, I understand this. That's for timing. Some emergency things -- you see these are priority -- economy, crisis, global warming and these things. But that does not mean that the U.S. forever is that these are more important than the basic human values or basic American values. I don't think.

BLITZER: The -- your representatives had talks with Chinese government officials that broke down in 2008.

Do you see those talks with China resuming?

DALAI LAMA: Well, there's some indication from some private channel, we see (INAUDIBLE) -- we see some possibility.

BLITZER: When?

DALAI LAMA: When?

I don't know. And I don't know.

BLITZER: You want to have a direct dialogue with China?

DALAI LAMA: Yes.

BLITZER: Would you...

DALAI LAMA: I -- I consider myself as a free spokesman for the people. So these educated, well (INAUDIBLE) people who are really more political minded or are well-informed of the situation, the reality. So Gergen people, they send a request to me or suggest to me the keeping dialogue no matter what sort of an empty hand. But it's still better to keep this relation.

So, from our part, yes, we're always ready to talk and that.

BLITZER: What's next for you?

You're 74 years old.

DALAI LAMA: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

BLITZER: How much longer do you want to continue...

DALAI LAMA: I don't know.

BLITZER: ...as the leader?

DALAI LAMA: I don't know. (INAUDIBLE) until my death.

BLITZER: Your holiness, thank you so much for spending some time with us with and good luck to you.

DALAI LAMA: Thank you.

Thank you, Wolf.

 

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