Govt says no China pressure on Dalai Lama
Cape Town - Major South African trade partner China has not put pressure on the government to bar the Dalai Lama's entry for Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu's birthday celebrations, an official said on Wednesday.
"There's no pressure being put on South Africa on this matter," Deputy Foreign Minister Marius Fransman told reporters.
"There was an application [for a visa]. There is a process and that will now be considered by the relevant authorities."
South Africa has dragged its heels in deciding on the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's visa request, made at its New Delhi embassy late last month.
The Dalai Lama was denied a visa to attend a peace conference in Johannesburg in 2009, as the government did not want to jeopardise ties with China, which is South Africa's biggest national trade partner.
Now he has been invited by Tutu, a friend and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to give an inaugural peace lecture as part of events to mark the Archbishop's 80th birthday on October 7.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.
He says he wants better treatment for Tibetans and accepts Chinese rule, but Beijing accuses him of being a "splittist" and opposes his regular meetings with foreign leaders.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is set to make an official visit to China from next Tuesday.