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Dalai Lama Refused Visa by S Africa Third Time

Cape Town

For the third time in a row, South Africa has refused to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama for attending World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates here next month, fearing that the Tibetan spiritual leader's trip would jeopardise relations with China.

The Dalai Lama's representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon, said that Department of International Relations and Co-operation officials had informed her over phone that the Tibetan spiritual leader would not be granted a visa, the Independent Online reported.

"For now the Dalai Lama has decided to cancel his trip to South Africa," Choedon said.

Choedon, however, said that her office was yet to receive a written confirmation from the South African Government.

She said the Dalai Lama, who lives in India, had applied for visa in New Delhi on August 27.

The summit, an annual gathering, is being held in Cape Town for the first time, with the arrangements being made by a local organising committee formed by foundations representing four South African peace laureates -- Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Albert Luthuli.

The refusal could provoke a boycott of the 14th annual peace summit to be held from October 13 to 15 as some Nobel Peace Laureates have told Tutu they will not come if the Dalai Lama is not permitted to enter the country.

"I have heard that if the Dalai Lama is not allowed into the country, other invited guests have said they will not come," Tutu's spokesman Roger Friedman was quoted as saying by Independent Online.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who is to host the event, said she had instructed city officials to write to the government to establish whether the Dalai Lama had been denied a visa.

"We have not heard from them yet, but I will not give up hope that our government will not humiliate the Dalai Lama again," De Lille said.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of campaigning for Tibet's independence and regularly uses its economic and political might to put pressure on governments around the world to prevent contacts with him.

It is the third time in five years that 79-year-old Dalai Lama had to cancel his visit to South Africa because of a failure to secure a visa.

In 2009, a peace conference in Johannesburg, arranged to highlight the World Cup in South Africa, was cancelled because the Dalai Lama was refused a visa.

In 2011, the Dalai Lama cancelled his visit to Tutu virtually on the eve of his departure, saying he had failed to get a response to his visa application.

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PEOPLE: Dalai Lama
PLACES: South Africa
SECTION: International
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