Wolf Blitzer began the interview by pointing out to the Dalai Lama that, "You have come to Washington many times, 10 times since 1991. And, each time, an American president has received you...You are here in Washington right now, and President Obama will not see you during this visit," and then asked His Holiness, "How disappointed are you?"
The Dalai Lama responded with a blend of restraint and thoughtfulness, stating that, "Firstly, I don't want to create any inconvenience for anybody". With Obama scheduled to visit Chinese president Hu Jintao and other officials in Beijing next month, His Holiness said he understands the president's need to "avoid embarrassment".
His Holiness expressed optimism about the US President's commitment to Tibetans, explaining that Obama contacted him before he was elected president and they have been in correspondence since. "He seems very-not only sympathetic, but-he really wants to do something practical," the Dalai Lama emphasized.
"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?" questioned Blitzer, to which the Dalai Lama answered that Obama has indicated that he will bring up the Tibetan issue with the Chinese government.
Blitzer cited a statement made by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in February 2009, in which she made clear that, "U.S. concern for human rights...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."
The Dalai Lama responded that he understands these priorities in a time of emergency with regards to terrorism, global warming, and the recent economic recession, "But that does not mean that the U.S. [position] forever is that these are more important than the basic human values or basic American values. I don't think."
Blitzer mentioned that the Dalai Lama's representatives had pressed Obama for a meeting, and appeared disappointed when he declined. His Holiness clarified that "In the beginning, my representatives made some effort," but afterwards he sent them a message, "Don't do that".
The Dalai Lama told Blitzer that he plans to meet with Obama at the White House in either December 2009 or early 2010, after the US president returns from his talks with China. His Holiness reasoned, "A more serious discussion is better than a picture...therefore I have no disappointment."