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22november20092New Delhi: In an interview yesterday with the private news channel NDTV, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his support for India, and defended US President Barack Obama from criticism that he is "soft on China".

The exiled Tibetan leader stated that he did not want to be the cause for tensions between his host country and China. Referring to his recent visit to the contended region of Arunachal Pradesh, His Holiness said that, "I did not want things to escalate between India and China."

Before the His Holiness's 8-15 November trip to the ancient Tawang monastery and other Tibetan Buddhist enclaves in Arunachal, Indian leaders had affirmed that, "The Dalai Lama is free to visit anywhere in India."

Still, Tibet's spiritual leader expressed in the interview that he had been worried about his visit to Tawang in light of the Chinese rhetoric against him. "I was very anxious before going to Tawang," he said.

His Holiness also defended President Obama from criticism that the US leader did not put enough pressure on Chinese officials during his first trip to Beijing earlier this month.

"Obama is not soft on China; just has a different style," he stated, without elaborating. He also told New Delhi Television that, "I am not disappointed that Obama has not met me yet."

His Holiness said he believed that the US President will discuss the Tibetan issue with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Washington DC tomorrow.

On Friday, while delivering the annual Sunanda Bhandari lecture at the Siri Fort auditorium in Delhi, His Holiness had defended India as a leading power in Asia.

He stated, "For many years, whenever I was in Washington and Europe, I always told leaders that when you think about Asia, you must think of India too...India is very important. Not just due to the size of population, but (because it is) also among the greatest of democracies."

These comments were a reaction to a recent US-China joint statement that China should help preserve stability in South Asia, which created concerns that the US will allow China to interfere in bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, such as the dispute over Kashmir.

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