ABC News’ Bret Hovell reports: As his Democratic rival wrapped up his European tour in France and London, Sen. John McCain attempted to steal back the media spotlight — employing some Zen-like help from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The two met privately in Aspen, Colorado Friday before emerging from a private residence in Aspen. They walked out holding hands.
McCain said he was honored to meet with the Dalai Lama, and stressed the importance of his work for human rights.
"The Dalai Lama has time and again emphasized that he asked only that the Tibetan people are provided with basic rights to preserve their culture, language and religious beliefs," McCain said.
"His nonviolence approach and his lifelong approach of seeking common ground around cultural and religious divides are an inspiration for all of mankind and to millions of Americans."
The presumptive Republican nominee said he thought the occasion of the upcoming Olympics would be a good time for China to "demonstrate to the world that it’s committed to respecting the basic human rights of its people."
"The United States welcomes good relations with China but it’s certainly no service to the people of China for the United States and other Democracies to pretended that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us. It does, will and must concern us. And that will necessarily involve continuing good relations with the Tibetan people and their remarkable representative the Dalai Lama," McCain said.
This was the first meeting between the two, although they have spoken before by phone. McCain requested the meeting months ago, and they were able to get it together this week.
His Holiness stressed that the visit was not political and did not constitute an endorsement, but that he was honored to meet McCain.
"My visit is unpolitical," the Dalai Lama said. "Meanwhile, my old friend is a candidate for president of this great country…I feel great honor in meeting him.”
He said he has already spent two week in the United States, lecturing several thousand people "who are showing interest."
"Besides that, as I think many of my friends know, my basic commitment is promotion of human values," the Dalai Lama said.