A Tibetan lawmaker has defended the Dalai Lama for asking a young boy to "suck my tongue" during a speech, in footage that subsequently went viral.
The Tibetan spiritual leader was giving an address in an unidentified place when the young boy, seemingly aged around 11, asked from the crowd "can I hug you?"
He was invited up onto the raised platform and embraced the religious figure, before the 87-year-old kissed him on the lips.
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He then pulls the child in again and rests his head against the youngster, when they break apart again the Dalai Lama puts out his tongue and says "suck my tongue".
And despite international outcry from rights groups and public figures, member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Dawa Tsering, claims it was just "a joke".
Talking to agency ANI, he said: "I just heard about the incident from the people who were present that day at the Dalai Lama's temple.
"Meeting with the people at the end of the programme during the question-answer session one of the children from the group has asked his Holiness 'can I hug you?' and the Dalai Lama said yes you can do that.
"Then the child asked for a kiss and he did a kiss and then jokingly his Holiness said you can suck my tongue also so it's just part of that thing."
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He then repeated the Dalai Lama's office's official apology and added: "So that was a part of a joke or play with a kid so we should not go more than that."
After the incident went viral the religious leader's office released a statement saying that he would like to apologise to the boy and his family "for the hurt his words may have caused".
"His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident," his office said in a Twitter statement.
The exiled Dalai Lama lives in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala. CNN reported that the video was recorded here in February.
The publication reported that the incident took place at an event with the M3M Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Indian real estate company M3M Group.
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