The Nobel Peace laureate said bin Laden's Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist actions, killing nearly 3,000 people, "must be brought to justice," but "we must have compassion and a sense of concern" for bin Laden as a human being, the government in exile said in a statement.
The clarification -- distinguishing between "the action" and "the actor" -- followed a Los Angeles Times report saying the Tibetan leader Tuesday told a University of Southern California audience: "Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. ... If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."
The Times said the spiritual leader made the statement after saying bin Laden as a human being may have deserved compassion and even forgiveness.
The newspaper said the Dalai Lama's remarks "appeared to suggest that the United States was justified in killing Osama bin Laden."
Not true, said the government in exile.
The Dalai Lama, 75, suggested "the counter-measure, no matter what form it takes, has to be compassionate action," the government in exile statement said Wednesday. At the same time, he said practicing forgiveness "did not mean that one should forget what has been done," it said.
Religious scholar Andrew Harvey says in his 2009 book "The Hope" the Dalai Lama made clear to him in 1989, when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, he was not a dogmatic pacifist.
"In certain very rare, extreme cases, force may be necessary," Harvey said the Dalai Lama told him in an interview in Oslo, Norway.
"But the only people who could be hoped to use such force economically and with compassion would be those who had undergone a long spiritual discipline and a long training in non-violent resistance," Harvey said the Dalai Lama added.
The Dalai Lama is making his first U.S. visit since announcing in March he would step down as the Tibetan government in exile's head of state.