The Dalai Lama, the 87-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, apologized Monday after he told a young boy to “suck my tongue” at a public event.
“A video clip is circulating showing a recent meeting where a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could hug him,” the exile leader, who has 19 million followers, said in a statement on his Twitter account.
“His Holiness would like to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends around the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.
The statement said the leader of the Dalai Lama “often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful manner, even in public and in front of cameras. He regrets this incident.”
In the video, which has been viewed 1 million times on Twitter, the Nobel Peace Prize winner can also be seen kissing the boy on the lips in front of an audience who clapped and laughed, while a man captured the moment with a cellphone .
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, is viewed by Beijing as a dangerous separatist.