Dalai Lama urges talks with Islamic State, help for refugees

AP News
Posted: Sep 13, 2016 9:09 AM
Dalai Lama urges talks with Islamic State, help for refugees

PARIS (AP) — The Dalai Lama says there should be dialogue with Islamic State extremists to end bloodshed in Syria and Iraq, and argues that religion is never a justification for killing.

The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, speaking Tuesday in Paris, said dialogue "is the only way," but didn't elaborate on how it should take place or with whom. He insisted that Islam should never be conflated with terrorism.

"A genuine practitioner of Islam must respect others' lives," he said, adding that someone who kills in the name of Islam or Buddhism "is no longer a Muslim, or a Buddhist."

He urged European countries to take in refugees, such as those fleeing Syria's war, but said European governments should also work toward ending the war so that the refugees can go home.

The Dalai Lama himself fled Tibet and has lived in India for decades, effectively as a refugee, and is viewed by China as a separatist.

He slammed Chinese censorship as "immoral" but said he's optimistic that China will eventually relax restrictions and open up more.

He is on a weeklong visit to France for conferences on the environment, spirituality, secular ethics and preserving Tibetan language and culture.

While he is no longer involved in politics, the Dalai Lama said he'd be happy to meet French President Francois Hollande. Hollande's office said no such meeting was considered, however.

China has frequently imposed diplomatic and economic punishments on countries whose leaders meet with the Dalai Lama.