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Obama Meets Dalai Lama, Indian PM in New Delhi

  • Anjana Pasricha

Former U.S. President Barack Obama listens to a question during a leadership summit in New Delhi, India, Dec. 1, 2017.

Former President Barack Obama and Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, met in New Delhi Friday to discuss promoting peace in the world, according to the Dalai Lama’s office.

Obama, who is on a three nation tour, also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, where he arrived after visiting China.

“It was very good, I think like reunion,” the Dalai Lama leader said calling Obama an old and trusted friend after meeting him in a New Delhi hotel.

It was the sixth meeting between the two leaders -- they last met in July last year when Obama hosted the Dalai Lama in the White House overriding strong objections from China which describes the Tibetan leader as a separatist and fears such meetings send the wrong signal to Tibetans.

Both men, who have won the Nobel Peace prize, discussed the kind of future they envision for the world, the Dalai Lama’s office said.

“I mentioned to him, we need promotion of sense of oneness…too much division,” the Dalai Lama later said.

The 82-year-old Tibetan leader, who has retired from a political role in the Tibetan exile administration, told Obama that laureates should meet to affect changes for the immediate future. “You are young and you can do a lot. Although my generation will not see the results, but your generation will definitely see the results.”

The Dalai Lama had requested the meeting because it is difficult for him to he visit the US now due to his age.

Obama apparently discussed his Foundation’s work with the Tibetan leader.

Obama’s stop in Delhi included a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders had developed a good rapport after Modi came to power and helped boost the India-U.S. relationship, which has since been on an upward trajectory.

After the meeting, Modi tweeted that “It was a pleasure to meet, once again, former President and learn about the new initiatives being taken forward under his leadership at the Obama Foundation and his perspectives on further strengthening India-US strategic partnership.”

Addressing a leadership summit organized by the Hindustan Times, Obama also hailed India-US ties and said that the two countries “can help chart course for a better future, especially when democracy itself is being questioned.”

He also said India should cherish and nurture its large Muslim population that is integrated and considers itself Indian. “That is unfortunately not always the case in some other countries,” he said.

The comment came at time when critics have expressed concern about growing intolerance by Hindu fringe groups since Modi’s Hindu nationalist right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party came to power.

Obama also addressed a town hall meeting with about 280 young Indian leaders in New Delhi. From India he goes on to visit France.

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