21:18 GMT02 December 2020
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    The Dalai Lama relinquished his role as political leader of the Tibetan exile government in 2011, while remaining a spiritual figurehead for the Tibetan people.

    As he approaches his 84th birthday on 6 June, the Dalai Lama was interviewed by the BBC at his residence in the mountains, in the town of McLeod-Ganj near Dharamshala in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

    In the interview, the spiritual leader opened up on a diverse array issues with his trademark candour and quirky, down-to-earth humour.


    There haven't been talks between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and China for many years.
    The Dalai Lama said in the interview he'd had had some discussions with retired Chinese officials in the past few years, but to no avail. China's President Xi Jinping had yet to request a meeting with him.


    Regarding relations with the current US administration, the Dalai Lama says that despite being open to a meeting with Donald Trump, who is close to China's President Xi Jinping, the US President has never asked for one.

    He also offered a rather scathing opinion of the 45th president's time in office as defined by a "lack of moral principle".

    "When he became president he expressed America first. That is wrong," the Dalai Lama said.

    He also cited concerns regarding the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the migrant crisis. In a reference to the situation on the US-Mexico border, the spiritual leader said:

    "When I saw pictures of some of those young children, I was sad."
    "America... should take a global responsibility."

    UK, Brexit

    Guided by his global outlook on the world, the Dalai Lama touched upon Brexit, saying he is "an admirer of the European Union", and pointing out that global partnerships have been instrumental in defusing major conflicts.

    The Dalai Lama opened up on the acute problem of immigration and refugees.

    In a speech last year, he noted that refugees residing in the European Union should eventually return home, adding "Europe is for Europeans". In the latest interview, the Dalai Lama reiterated this sentiment.

    "European countries should take these refugees and give them education and training, and the aim is return them to their own land with certain skills," he said.

    The final goal, according to him, is to help rebuild the countries people have fled. When asked his opinion if some refugees expressed an unwillingness to leave Europe and go back to their home countries, he responded:

    "A limited number is OK, but the whole of Europe [will] eventually become Muslim country, African country - impossible," he said.


    When a reference was made in the interview to a remark made by the monk in 2015, when he said that if he was succeeded by a female Dalai Lama she would have to be attractive, he reaffirmed his belief that beauty matters just as much as brains.

    "If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive," he chuckled.

    The Dalai Lama was forced to flee his home of Tibet in 1959 when China introduced troops to the region. He subsequently sought refuge in India and for six decades has been living in exile in Dharamsala with some 10,000 Tibetans. While he "formally" stepped down from political responsibilities in 2011, as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, he has continued to be their figurehead.


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