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Dalai Lama: Obama Could Lead To Positive Change

The Dalai Lama discusses his hopes for the Obama administration and U.S. policy on Tibet at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge on Wednesday. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)
The Dalai Lama discusses his hopes for the Obama administration and U.S. policy on Tibet at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge on Wednesday. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)

It was 1959 when a failed uprising and the resulting Chinese crackdown forced the Dalai Lama to flee his native Tibet.

Fifty years later, in a news conference Wednesday in Cambridge, he recalled the 15-day journey he took on foot in his escape to India. The 73-year old Buddhist spiritual leader expressed confidence that he will eventually return to Tibet. "Oh, yes," he said. "Every Tibetan feels like that."

The Dalai Lama began a four-day visit to Massachusetts on Wednesday as part of a U.S. tour. A new center on Buddhism and leadership also opens at MIT this week.

While saying he believes U.S. policy towards Tibet and China remains essentially unchanged under President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama also said Obama's concilatory style could lead to positive change. "Whether the other side responds or not, U.S., I think, must reach out," he said.

China itself is changing, he said. Citing China's emergence as a global power, the Dalai Lama said Beijing possesses economic and military might, but lacked moral authority. However, he added that a number of articles written from within China that are critical of Beijing's Tibet policy reflect a growing "maturity" within the Chinese populace, and are "positive signs."

The Dalai Lama continues his Massachusetts visit with two public lectures on Saturday. The event will be held at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend.

This program aired on April 29, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

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