The Dalai Lama issued a statement after footage went viral of him kissing an Indian boy on the lips and asking him to “suck my tongue.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader was answering questions in February in Dharamsala, the Indian town where he lives in exile, when the boy asked, “Can I hug you?”
The audience laughed after the bizarre interaction.
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The Dalai Lama apologized for his “words” not his actions.
“A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked his Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug,” the statement posted to his Twitter, which has over 19 million followers. “His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”
It added, “His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.”
The 87-year-old Nobel Prize winner has been widely criticized for the kiss and “tongue” comment.