Dalai Lama Congratulates President Obama

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama congratulated President Barack Obama in a letter Nov. 7, following the incumbent's victory over his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney.

"When you were elected in 2008, you inspired the world with a call to take responsibility for the problems we face as global citizens. Since then, you have made earnest efforts to live up to that great hope and trust placed in you by the American public. I believe you have been re-elected now in recognition of that effort," the Dalai Lama wrote.

The letter, which can be read in full on the website of the Central Tibetan Administration, went on to thank the president for his "steady encouragement of... efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the problems in Tibet."

U.S. policy does not support Tibetan independence, a goal that the Dalai Lama also does not seek. However, after their meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2011, the Dalai Lama said that Obama "shows genuine concern about suffering in Tibet and other places."

Obama has twice met with the Dalai Lama as president. These meetings have drawn criticism from Chinese leadership, who urged Obama not to hold them.

China considers Tibet its territory and the spiritual leader a separatist, although the Dalai Lama favors self-rule rather than independence, according to the New York Times. Last year, he ceded his political authority in Tibet to elected leadership.

There have been several recent reports of self-immolations in Tibet in protest of Chinese rule.

A Tibetan religious artist set himself on fire on Nov. 4, the Guardian reported. On Nov. 7, three teenaged monks, the youngest only 15 years old, self-immolated in an apparent protest outside of a Chinese police station in Ngaba, eastern Tibet.

According to Phayul, an expatriate Tibetan news site, 67 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, demanding freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

The Dalai Lama joined many world spiritual and political leaders in congratulating Obama on his second term.

Pope Benedict XVI also sent a message of congratulation to Obama expressing hope that "ideals of liberty and justice, which guided the founders of the U.S.A., may continue to shine on the road ahead for the nation," the Vatican Information Service reported.

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