The Dalai Lama has apologised for controversial comments about the possibility of a woman succeeding him.
Speaking to the BBC last month, the Tibetan spiritual leader had said that any future female Dalai Lama should be “attractive”.
But a statement from his office apologised for his words, suggesting it had been a joke.
“He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies,” it said.
In the interview, the spiritual leader, who is 84 this week, touched on topics including US President Donald Trump, his dreams of returning to Tibet, and refugees.
However, it was his comments on the prospect of a female Dalai Lama that raised eyebrows.
“If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive,” he said in English, while laughing.
The statement apologised for any offence caused and put it down to a misunderstood joke.
The Dalai Lama “has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalized world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition”, the statement said.
“However, it sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humour in translation when brought into another. He regrets any offence that may have been given.”
Throughout his life, the Dalai Lama has opposed the objectification of women and supported gender equality, it added.
The statement also said comments in which he said refugees in the European Union should ultimately return home “may have been misinterpreted.”
“He certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return,” it said,
However, there was no apology for his comments on Mr Trump who, he said, had a “lack of moral principle.”