"Obama is not soft on China; just has a different style," he said in a interview aired on Indian television.
The Dalai Lama, who heads a Tibetan government-in-exile based in India, also said he was "not disappointed Obama has not met me yet," referring to his visit to Washington in October, Politco reported.
Previous presidents have met with the Tibetan spiritual leader in his visits there, despite complaints from the Chinese government, which has occupied Tibet since 1951.
"Actually publicly, as well as behind the scenes, Obama has really taken up the issue of Tibet with Chinese leaders very seriously," he told reporters on Saturday, Nov 21.
In the television interview, he said that he expected the issue would also come up when the American president meets privately with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, Nov 24.