NEW DELHI (Kyodo) -- The office of the Dalai Lama released a statement Tuesday apologizing for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's controversial remarks on women during a recent interview with the BBC.
"(In) responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence," the statement said.
"He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies."
In an interview the British broadcaster aired last week, the Dalai Lama said, "If female Dalai Lama comes, then (she) should be more attractive," suggesting that otherwise "people, I think, prefer not (to) see that face."
His comment drew criticism from around the world on social media platforms.
According to the statement, the Dalai Lama first referred to the physical appearance of a female successor in 1992 during a conversation with the editor of Vogue magazine, wherein he said a future Dalai Lama could be a woman "if that would be more helpful." At the time, he jokingly added that she should be attractive.
"His Holiness consistently emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances," the statement said.
"For all his long life, His Holiness has opposed the objectification of women, has supported women and their rights and celebrated the growing international consensus in support of gender equality and respect for women," it added.